Homeless in Parksville turn out to vote and play role in electing new mayor

Homeless in Parksville turn out to vote and play role in electing new mayor
WatchHomeless in Parksville turn out to vote and play a part in getting councillor Doug O'Brien elected as mayor. Skye Ryan has more.

Desiree Harvey was breathing a sigh of relief Sunday, in the wake of Parksville’s election results.

The 41-year-old and 20 other residents of the supportive housing complex in the VIP Motel were all facing evictions due to Parksville Mayor Ed Mayne’s push to have the complex shut down.

So, they mobilized their vote and those of neighbouring residents, and helped Parksville councillor Doug O’Brien handily defeat Mayne on Saturday night.

“I’m really happy, I think it’s gonna be a good change around here,” said Desiree Harvey, who has lived at the complex one month.

“I made it a mission to let people know who they’re voting for and to be careful who they’re voting for,” said Kelly Morris, manager of the supportive housing complex, named Ocean Place.

“I’m happy, I was worried before the election,” said Ocean Place resident Mark Martin.

According to newly elected Mayor O’Brien, he heard from many voters that Mayne’s strong pursuit of shutting down the BC Housing supportive housing project and evicting its tenants impacted their vote.

“I think that they understand I bring some compassion, some humanity, you know, on decisions type of thing,” said O’Brien.

New mayors were also elected in North Cowichan, where incumbent Al Siebring did not run again. Former municipal councillor Rob Douglas won the night there by 800 votes over his nearest competitor. Meanwhile, Duncan’s incumbent Mayor Michelle Staples and Ladysmith’s Aaron Stone ran unopposed.

Elsewhere, in Qualicum Beach, Teunis Westbroek returns to the mayor’s seat after he beat out incumbent Mayor Brian Wiese by 1,300 votes. Westbroek, who was Qualicum Beach’s mayor from 1998 to 2018, won even after the town issued a press release on its website in September informing the public that he had been censured by his fellow councillors.

It was a nail-biter in Port Alberni, where incumbent Mayor Sharie Minions won by less than 200 votes over her nearest rival.

In Nanaimo, Mayor Leonard Krog took the night in a landslide by nearly 8000 votes and welcomed in three newly elected councillors including former Nanaimo MP Paul Manly.

“We have Paul Manly coming out of the Green Party, Hilary Eastmure, a new young councillor and Janice Perrino which is not a surprise to me. I think Janice brings a lot to the office, given her past experience as Mayor of Summerland,” Krog told CHEK News on Saturday night.

Meantime in Parksville, tenants of Ocean Place still need to find new housing but have been given 180 days to do so and a new commitment of support from O’Brien.

With the help of BC Housing and their new mayor, they are more confident they’ll find it before they’re pushed back on the streets.

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Skye RyanSkye Ryan

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