A recent article and letter to the editor in local newspapers expressed concerns related to the City’s property purchase at 810 Braidwood Rd., including public safety, the future use of the site, and the City’s hiring of a consultant to prepare a request for proposals.
To be clear, the City’s focus has been on developing a facility that will be a good fit for the neighbourhood and the community.
Social planning is a highly specialized field.
Consultant John Jessup was selected from a list of accredited professionals provided to us by BC Housing. Based in Nanaimo, he was also the closest geographically to Courtenay. His expertise in this area will help move this project forward in the most efficient and cost-effective manner possible.
The cost to the City of Courtenay to prepare a request for proposals will be: zero. BC Housing provided $50,000 to assist with the planning and development of a supportive housing proposal, and we’ve budgeted $10,500 of this to cover the cost of the initial planning and public engagement. The remainder will be available to the successful proponent to move the project forward.
Regarding public safety, our consultant advises that supportive housing in fact makes our streets safer. Giving people a place to live, determining their needs, and providing them specialized assistance, ensures these individuals have the stable and supportive environment they require to improve their lives and, by extension, their community.
Numerous studies conducted by provincial and other agencies have concluded that supportive housing projects do not generally result in negative effects on their neighbourhoods, either through quality of life or property values.
We don’t have to look far to see this housing model applied in other communities. Victoria, Duncan, Nanaimo and Campbell River have all addressed the homelessness issue by building permanent supportive housing and/or transition housing facilities. Our consultant John Jessup was involved in several of these projects.
We will draw on the experiences of these and other communities to address a concern that has been identified as a critical need here in the Comox Valley.
We look forward to an open and collaborative process for this supportive housing project, with the end result being a facility that is an asset to the community. Please visit our website at www.courtenay.ca/supportivehousing.aspx for updates as we move forward.
David Allen, B.E.S., CLGEM
Editor’s note: David Allen is the City of Courtenay’s chief administrative officer.