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Candidates for City Council
Most Nanaimo residents understand that both homelessness and affordable housing are critical issues here in Nanaimo. If you could only support 3 initiatives to deal with these problems, what would they be?
I am proud to have worked very hard on this issue on the Safer Nanaimo Working Group with Coun Diane Brennan. We both came to the defence of the South End when the Balmoral Hotel issue came up. We developed a Housing First Strategy, which outlines our needs and how to get there. We have been working with the provincial housing ministry and expect answers in the very near future, and that will be good news for all of Nanaimo. ~Merv Unger
We are a university town now and more than ever low income housing is a must. I support co-op housing for university students in order to free up the low income housing currently available. That way, a more stable market for such housing can be achieved. I believe in an effective transit system. It is my goal to find a permanent home for the 7-10 club. ~Angela Negrin
1. Provincial Funding.
2. Federal Funding I would not bring Nanaimo further into debt to support wet houses, there are to many sober people that need housing.
3. I would require all casino tax revenue over current $3,200,000 — go to housing and address homelessness issues. The issues could be policing to counceling. ~James Younger
Hopefully there will be more than 3 initiatives. I support the homeless shelter Councillors Brennan and Unger have been working on and believe that is a good start. I would also like to see a ‘gathering’ place for the homeless where they can get a meal, clothing and one stop access to agencies that could help them in whatever their needs are. The Salvation Army does a good job but they cannot be expected to do everything. What I really want to see is a concentrated effort to provide affordable housing and not just as rental property. Real housing that people own. I have a plan that I have thought about since my time with Habitat for Humanity. In a nutshell, the community could build condominiums that would provide decent affordable housing for the working poor as well as interest free mortgages. ~Terry Lynn Saunders
1. Adhere to the city’s policy of not converting rentals to condos; a recent major example is the attempt to stratify Seacrest Apts.
2. Apply the will and ability to implement “Nanaimo’s Response to Homelessness” (tabled July 08) using Toronto’s homelessness plan as a benchmark.
3. Fast track the ability to legalize rooming houses – for both existing and new construction. ~Pat Squire
1 – Determine the extent to which existing building codes and bylaws may cause the cost of housing to be greater than it need be to provide adequate homeless shelter and develop an inventory of sites where temporary or permanent homeless facilities could be placed.
2 – Get out in front of the homeless problem rather than being behind it playing catch up. Beating the bushes to find the homeless is not a reasonable approach. Until the touted units are built, we should undertake to provide some shelter for every homeless person that needs it, even if the facilities are temporary and in parks or on vacant public lots. Efforts can then be focused on defining needs, providing services and security and moving folks to appropriate and longer term facilities as required. The combined costs of our current system of dealing with the homeless problems in an ad hoc manner are far too high and need to be reduced.
3 – Develop a bylaw which, for large scale housing developments, requires that the project provide some affordable housing, e.g. 10-30% of units and that smaller projects pay some proportion of their development costs into a fund established to build affordable housing. The idea is to use a portion of the increase in land values created when the City grants rezonings, development permits, etc., for public purposes. I do not view this suggestion as “subsidizing” public housing, but rather as a recovery of part of the value which the public has created in the development process. ~Ron Bolin
Housing is essential, but must be done in small units, with strong management so as not to impact neighbourhoods. Our area has more than enough social services now, so I would expect NO MORE in this area. I serve as a Director of the Columbian Centre Society who sucessfully operates 5 buildings none of which have any impact on their neighbours, so I do know it is possible to achieve. Continued CPTED (Crime Prevention Through Enviromental Design) principles need to be be retrofitted where possible on public and private space. The lighting in Deverill Park is an example of this. Enforcement personnel, both RCMP and Bylaw need to continue to be diligent, and working with other agencies need to continue to shut down drug houses much more quickly than they have been able to in the past. ~Blake McGuffie
The only answer to homelessness is to provide homes. Nanaimo recently developed a Homeless Action Plan, that has great potential and looks at providing a mix of purpose built housing as well as subsidies for rental housing. Pressure needs to be kept up on both the provincial and federal levels of government to contribute. The city also has looked at secondary suites as a means to provide affordable housing and is currently looking at developing guidelines for rooming houses. Making sure affordable and social housing are spread throughout Nanaimo is essential. See my blog gordonfuller.blogspot.com for more information and ideas. ~Gordon Fuller
HOMELESSNESS A real big problem everywhere. There are many empty lots around the city that could be used as campground facilities without a big concentration at any one area. Supplied water and garbage pickup. I believe the federal Gov. would be willing to supply army tents and these people must be considered to be Canadian refugees. Mobile housing as used for construction and oil rig camps could also be supplied for immediate shelter to fill the gap until decent housing can be generated. This can be done NOW at a very little cost shared by all levels of government. I dedicate myself to making this happen! ~Brunie Brunie
As an apartment manger I talk to people all the time that are having a very difficult time finding a place to live. I have three proposals that would elevate some of the housing problems.
-All condo developments would have to allow rentals not just for the original owners but of people who buy from original owners. I would also talk to the strata councils that operate preexisting condo developments to get them to allow rentals in their buildings.
-Stop the crackdown of illegal suites and make it easier for owners to turn their illegal suites into legal suites.
-There are many developers who want to build in Nanaimo. I say let them built. An increase of supply will help elevate this situation. ~Mark Sadhra
1. Require the provincial and federal governments to make a fair contribution towards the resolution of this problem.
2. Require that a coordinated and accessible multi-disciplinary team be available to provide practical logistical support for people in crisis and/or with a housing emergency to help them access all available levels of support and assistance with a minimal level of bureaucracy.
3. Partnership with other social and support providers with a proven track record of assistance. ~Janet Cowling
Provincial, Federal and Municipal funding for non-market housing projects that will house the homeless.
Inclusionary Zoning (developers must include a percentage of affordable housing in new development plans)/ Density Bonusing (developers can increase density provided they include affordable housing in a new project) with an emphasis on constructing rental units. ~Bill Forbes
The first initiative I would support is aggressive lobbying of the Provincial and Federal governments to make access to affordable housing a priority in this country. The next initiative would be to adopt “Smart Growth” principles of affordable housing which is primarily about providing a variety of housing options and setting “inclusionary zoning” (a required percentage of affordable housing units in new developments). The third initiative would be to adequately support service providers that are often essential to the success of people new to permanent housing. ~Simon Schachner
– Helping people with mental illness find affordable assisted living quarters.
– Separating the homeless into two groups, those that want help and those that don’t. I want to spend tax dollars on the ones who want to help themselves but can’t.
– Crack down hard on the drug dealers to make it more of a risk to offend, currently the punishment is worth the chance to make money off the plight of others.
Its a complex issue! ~Rob Campbell
I will continue to support the excellent work currently carried out by the service providers. Through strong advocacy, policy change and supporting initiatives like “Streets to Homes” we can work to end homelessness. Although viewed by some as the responsibility of upper government, we must act to improve our community through financial, in-kind or capital investment with broad participation. We need to create a greater pride and sense of community with dignity based policy and response to issues of homelessness, addiction, crime and core issues. ~Jim Kipp
Get Provincial and Federal Governments to accept their responsibility for this issue of homelessness. The City should act as a coordinator with the two Senior Levels of Government. ~Loyd Sherry
1) The City’s current Housing First action plan that involves building new housing via the donation of City-owned land, construction funds from the Province, and management by VI Health Authority.
2) The Canadian Mental Health’s project of converting the Balmoral Hotel into residences, as vetted through the South End Residents’ Association.
3) Legalization and regulation of boarding houses. ~Bill Holdom
The issue of homelessness and affordable housing are complex and complicated as so many levels of government, various agencies and municipal governments are involved.
I do believe the current Council is making excellent progress in this regard with respect to priorizing affordable housing and the homeless in Nanaimo as a very high priority. As I write this response I have optimism an announcement on Provincial funding for a new long term affordable housing initiative in Nanaimo is imminent.
More specifically, if I could only support 3 initiatives to deal with homelessness and affordable housing, I would continue to support:
1. Providing City owned raw land for future low cost housing projects.
2. Encourage more affordable rental properties to be constructed in part or whole.
3. Direct cash in lieu from developments to fund low cost housing initiatives. ~Bill Bestwick
We will have an announcement soon from the Province with regard to a major housing initiative for the whole city, including the homeless. This is very exciting news. ~Larry McNabb
Homelessness and affordable housing (lack of) are two separate issues. One is a social issue, the other a long term economic issue. Two major industries in Nanaimo are retirement and tourism. Both of which rely on low paid workers who must be decently and affordably housed. With the downturn in the market now is the time to build helping to maintain our forest industry at the same time.
We must stop treating the homeless as criminals per se.
When one becomes homeless for whatever reason one becomes depressed and then perhaps angry, paranoid, reach for the bottle or for drugs. The problems are not caused by the homeless but homelessness. It solves nothing to drive them out of where they are sleeping. Everyone has a right to a good night’s sleep. We let sleeping dogs lie. Why not sleeping people? Everywhere the homeless might shelter out of the rain there are chain link fences or warning notices.
We need a living room for those with no living room. I suggest the old museum building would make a good living room. Well patrolled. I also think the city should rent several vacant lots. Fence in three sides and set up with toilet facilities as camp sites. The city should take seriously the recent decision regarding the right of the homeless to camp. We have vacant lots. We don’t need campsites in our parks.
The city should pressure the province to increase welfare rates and make them inclusive. Money given in welfare is recycled into the local economy. Throwing people off welfare encourages them to join the underground economy. ~Tim Lander
I would support initiatives that encourage the co-ordination of many organizations such as City of Nanaimo, the V.I.H.A. Outreach Program, and B.C. Emergency Shelter Fund. We need ways to avoid a “Tent City” in Nanaimo.
One low cost initiative could be for alternative ideas for homeless that incorporate shipping crate homes like those used in China. Each crate is only $3,000 and could be easily located near policing stations. They are more secure than tents and we could build a public bathroom to accommodate their needs. Giving them support then a safe and secure place to go to in order to treat other problems; such as joblessness, addictions, and mental health.
Another alternative initiative for low income housing would be a similar shipping crate home idea but with individual bathrooms. This way when one neighborhoods value increases, we can economically and efficiently relocate the low income housing to another area. ~Troy Pearson
As an appointed member to the Social Planning advisory committee I am informed of issues and have an interest in working together to respond to changing social needs and issues.
-To develop a policy within the City to ensure that a percentage of any new zonings by developers contain the grant of a certain number of municipal affordable housing to the City, to be used by non-profit societies to build affordable housing.
-I would support a lobby from the Council of the City of Nanaimo to the Provincial Government, to provide more centres for the treatment of alcoholism and addiction that would allow those affected by this disease to be adequately treated in our society.
-Stand by the city policy of prohibiting the conversion of existing residential rental buildings to condominium status when the rental vacancy rate falls below 3%. ~Diana Johnstone
Implement a model and make it a program of immediacy, perhaps the Ontario model… give it an immediate trial period, far more pressure on the provincial government and its departments to look after people, continue with the move to low cost and affordable housing for the individuals concerned…. take care to consult residents and stakeholders in the areas before implementation. The problem is NOT only for some of the city, It is a problem for all of our residents to deal with. ~Jack Arnold
My three initiatives would be:
a) Support fully the City’s “Housing First and Harm Reduction” action plan and ensure that the annual goals in this five-year plan are being met and that “the load” is shared equally by other parts of the City. To have some thirteen social services dispensed from the South End alone is unfair and unacceptable!
b) I sat on both Secondary Suite Task Forces which steered Council towards legalizing secondary suites, now a possibility in the main dwelling as well as in detached structures (granny- and coach house suites) and I feel that I have contributed, albeit in a small way, towards more affordable housing. More of this type of housing should be made available. Similarly I support more co-op housing and it goes without saying that there will be no conversion from rental stock to condo as long as the vacancy rate is less than 3%, something which this Council is having trouble following even though this is a current bylaw………
c) Some municipalities require developers to set aside a certain percentage of new housing projects as “affordable” and I believe there should be opportunity for Nanaimo to do the same; I am using the SmartGrowthBC definition of “affordable” to be that not more than 30% of income is paid to have a roof over your head. ~Fred Pattje
1. Those that cannot help themselves need to be helped and cared for, and we need to have facilities where they can be looked after. That’s what we Canadians do.
2. Those that can help themselves, but refuse to work, need to be presented with opportunities to work and contribute to society. Or, they can be re-trained to find something they can do to help them build a better life.
3. The city can look at providing incentives so that investors and developers would be encouraged to build realistic affordable housing that can be rented out at reasonable rates. The city has the ability to create such an environment, and recognizing the opportunity, the development community could be enticed to participate, lessening dependence on the city and taxpayers. The Federal government needs to get involved, as this is also an issue concerning Capital Gains allowances. ~Mark MacDonald
The first initiative that I could support is an incentive for developers to build affordable housing other than condos for example. What the developers build is dictated by good business sense and the economy. Apartments or affordable housing are not where the best profits are realized. That is not a criticism, but reality. So a funding incentive or relaxation on DCCs to make affordable housing attractive to build is the idea.
Second, the City’s Housing First Plan to house the Homeless is an incentive that I could support. I believe it has been borrowed from the City of Toronto and the Streets to Homes Program that appears to be very successful. It requires a buy in by the Province for funding and VIHA for the support needed by the individuals that are housed.
I am not aware of any other incentive at this time. ~Ted Greves
Don’t forget to check out the response to this question from our Mayoral candidates here.