Skip to content

Courtenay councillor advocates relentless lobbying for complex care housing

Courtenay Coun. Doug Hillian is determined to continue to remind provincial authorities that the Comox Valley desperately needs complex care housing.
Courtenay council

Courtenay Coun. Doug Hillian is determined to continue to remind provincial authorities that the Comox Valley desperately needs complex care housing.

He and other council members, and city staff, have met a few times with Housing Minister David Eby, and with Minister of Mental Health and Addictions Sheila Malcolmson, to discuss the issue of social housing and related services such as expanded harm reduction supports.

“I believe when we met with those ministers, we made the situation really clear,” Hillian said at the Jan. 31 council meeting. “We pressed on them that despite all of our efforts, we can’t manage the challenges that we’re facing. There are too many people who do not have housing, whether supportive or otherwise. We’re continually stretched to just cope.”

He said Eby advised that complex care housing was being developed to address these concerns, and that the city should work with BC Housing. Malcolmson advised the city to contact Island Health. However, according to Hillian, Island Health says there are no plans to implement complex care on a scale that is required in this region. He also said BC Housing has no current initiatives to address the needs of Valley citizens.

While he does not question the sincerity of Eby or Malcolmson, Hillian said “we’re dealing with the complex web of provincial bureaucracy.” He feels staff and council deserve clear and straight answers about available funding, what short-term initiatives will be taken, and how long they will have to wait.

“If we know that, we’re better able to focus our attention, and decide what steps are within our control and what aren’t. But in the meantime, I think we have to be relentless in our lobbying with these two particular ministers about the need for services in this community.”

Council approved Hillian’s resolution to seek a further meeting with both ministers to press the case for additional vital public services.

Coun. Wendy Morin said a 129 per cent increase in callouts for drug poisonings demonstrates that the Comox Valley should be a high priority for complex care housing.

“That’s just regarding addiction,” she said. “We know that people who are unhoused have a variety of challenges. That includes traumatic brain injury, physical health issues, mental health. It’s not just addiction. I really believe we need to drive that point home.”

Several years ago, Mayor Bob Wells recalls Maple Pool being kept open as a temporary measure before other housing options became available. The Braidwood and Junction complexes opened, but Maple Pool has not seen a reduction in numbers of people needing low-cost housing.

“We’ve been focused and clear with the province, we need to deal with housing first, we need to work on mental health and addictions,” Wells said.

READ: Braidwood construction complete; first tenant has moved in

READ: ‘Growing pains’ not linked with Junction: Hillian

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter