We write this letter at the request of several residents of our small Courtenay neighbourhood bounded by Fifth and Eight Streets, Pidcock Ave and by the E & N Railway line beside Menzies Ave.
We are shocked and appalled by the way in which Courtenay councillors and the mayor are apparently furthering their individual political ambitions or retirement legacies with quick and quiet abuse of democratic process. Through the City’s land use regulation and development approval process it seems councillors and the mayor are in a mad pre-election scramble to score political points to campaign on by making our neighbourhood an over concentration of a social service crisis intervention ghetto and a virtual gulag of social despair and social disorder.
Long after the fact of decisions being made and much work done to effect rapid approval and construction of a 46-unit modular housing facility to house the homeless in distress, and just before the civic election, our neighbourhood was completely surprised by the sudden announcement this development was well underway in its planning and implementation. This facility is to be located on city land at Eighth and Menzies, in a neighbourhood already carrying more than its fair share of social responsibility.
The mayor and councillors have placed themselves and the proposed 46-unit modular homeless transition facility in an untenable situation. It is “untenable” according to both dictionary definitions of the word “untenable,” because Council’s behaviour is according to definition #1, “incapable of being defended, indefensible” and definition #2, “not fit to be occupied” because of its proposed location.
Three councillors are seeking the mayor’s office in the upcoming civic election. Apparently, a fourth councillor is retiring. So, at least four of you, and possibly more, will be gone after the election. Yet, you have secretly advanced what you know to be a controversial project now presented as a “done deal.” It certainly appears an attempt to claim the moral and intellectual high ground of great political achievement in a way that you can conveniently lay blame and shame upon concerned neighbourhood residents who already carry more than their fair share of social responsibility, should they express any concern. This is a cynical political manoeuvre by ambitious politicians looking to advance their ambitions. All this is nothing short of political knee-jerk opportunism and sardine-can social policy, creating more social despair and disparity in the community and especially in our neighbourhood.
This development proposal must be immediately stopped in its tracks and no further action be taken until newly elected councillors and mayor have vetted this proposal through an election campaign in the same way that Maple Pool was handled as a major election issue in 2014 civic election. Outgoing old boys of failed political ambition more concerned with the top job at City Hall rather than dedicated community service based on integrity, transparency and accountability, ought not saddle a new council with the hastily and ill conceived legacy when they won’t be around to mop up their mistakes.
None of you has the faintest idea of the degree of social disorder and social responsibility our neighbourhood currently faces or how this development proposal will contribute to it. Not only is this initiative by council a slam-dunk battering ram of political expediency and opportunism, it is even worse social policy. You also seem oblivious to how sequestering this over concentration of crisis intervention social services in an a small neighbourhood will further degrade and demoralize the very people you claim to be helping. We will have none of it without an inclusive, transparent and accountable decision making process!
Shame on Courtenay city council. On May 22, stop this development process immediately!