Courtenay council approved a development variance permit for two lots at a property at 20th and Lambert, which had been re-zoned last year for subdividing purposes. A housing agreement was registered to ensure the owner or a family member occupies the unit, which could therefore not be rented.
“As we know, this was a house that had significant problems, and the neighbourhood had no confidence in the landlord to resolve those problems.” Coun. Doug Hillian said at the Jan. 20 meeting. “The resulting plan was a covenant, which only permitted it to be owner-occupied.”
Staff said the number of complaints from neighbours has decreased since the changes were made.
“I think we should take note that this seemed to have been an effective way to deal with this particular situation,” Hillian said. “Good to know the neighbourhood has some peace again.”
•Council approved a Hillian resolution for the 2020 Association of Vancouver Island and Coastal Communities (AVICC) convention, April in Nanaimo.
“As everyone knows, we’ve been a host community for a supportive housing complex for the past year,” Hillian said. “While it’s been wonderful to get people off the street and into warm housing, we’ve obviously had some challenges we’ve had to deal with as a community.”
He notes BC Housing has not received Treasury Board approval for funding for community outreach related to supportive housing in neighbourhoods.
“To me this is a significant deficit. I think we would have benefitted had they funded the host organization to do some community outreach beforehand, and to have that continue on to help problem solve with neighbourhood issues.”
Another issue is low wages for supportive housing workers, which Hillian believes has resulted in staff turnover, which adds to challenges.
“I think what the problem is, it doesn’t recognize that most of the people who live in this type of housing have significant trauma in their backgrounds, and that often manifests in difficult behaviours. So it’s really important, I think, to the safety of those people and to the surrounding neighbourhood that there be skilled people there. Basically you get what you pay for.”
In a letter to Mayor Bob Wells, Premier John Horgan encourages council to “continue working with BC Housing, and the Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing on these important matters.”
•Council agreed to support in principle an Island Food Charter, as requested by the Comox Valley Food Policy Council. The charter is a document that supports the many elements of community food security: health and well-being, healthy food choices, breastfeeding and accurate information about food, among others.
“What’s suggested here is that it be included in the Official Community Plan, and be aligned with that,” said Coun. Wendy Morin, who served as acting mayor Jan. 20.