LOCAL EDITORIAL: Ball back in Courtenay’s court

A majority of directors on the Comox Valley Regional District board did the right thing last week by refusing to reopen a discussion about a homeless shelter in the city.

A majority of directors on the Comox Valley Regional District board did the right thing last week by refusing to reopen a discussion about a homeless shelter in the city.

As Area B director Jim Gillis noted, the Comox Valley homeless are primarily in Courtenay, and that is where the shelter should be.

As others reminded the two Courtenay directors who voted in favour of a motion to reopen, the City had come to the CVRD in the first place and asked for help. The CVRD helped by buying property in downtown Courtenay on which a shelter could be built.

After representatives from the rest of the Valley took a major step to help Courtenay — and more to the point to assist local homeless people — CVRD directors now call for a made-in-Courtenay solution to address backlash from businesspeople upset by the location.

Even Mayor Greg Phelps of Courtenay, a homeless shelter supporter, voted against the motion as a CVRD director.

To be fair, Couns. Murray Presley, Larry Jangula, Jon Ambler and Manno Theos — who voted to return the discussion to the CVRD — are not saying they are against a homeless shelter.

In fact, every bit as much as Phelps and Couns. Ronna-Rae Leonard and Doug Hillian listen to the constituents who voted them in, the other four Courtenay councillors are listening to different constituents.

As Jangula noted, it’s hard to argue with a petition with 1,100 signatures opposing the proposed shelter’s current Cliffe Avenue site.

Voters will factor the stances of various local politicians in November when the municipal elections roll around.

In the meantime, Paul Ives of Comox had a good idea to approach BC Housing to open discussions about what form a homeless shelter would take, one of the unknowns that concerns businesspeople already suffering from slow sales.

Phelps and his council, which is split almost right down the middle on the issue, must find a way to work together for the needs of the homeless and downtown businesspeople.


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