Neighbours say supportive housing planned for Nanaimo in wrong location


WATCH: Many residents in Nanaimo’s south end are worried about a new modular housing project for those at risk of homelessness, seniors, and those with disabilities. The B.C. government announced a multi-million dollar project late last month but since there have been many questions. As Kendall Hanson tells us, most people support such housing but says the location isn’t a good fit.

A new supportive modular housing project is slated to change the face of a south-end Nanaimo neighbourhood and Anita Wagner has a front row seat from her Cranberry Street home.

From her perspective, it is a bad choice of location.

“I’m a little bit concerned about having to close the doors now and lock everything up,” said Wagner.

Wagner and others in the area also felt blindsided when the project was suddenly announced last month.

“We had no notification,” said Wagner. She also cites the close proximity to a school and the Boys and Girls Club as concerns.

The B.C. government is in a hurry to provide new supportive housing across the province.

It is funding the project to the tune of $7.25 million while the City of Nanaimo is providing the land.

Construction is set to begin this spring but the first public information session was only held last week.

People packed that session and were at council this week to again demand more answers. The mayor says he’s heard their concerns.

“I can tell you right now. Council has as many questions as does the public,” said Mayor Bill McKay.

City staff will look at alternative locations but BC Housing wants these units occupied before the end of the year.

“We’ve found ourselves in Nanaimo having lost out on funding opportunities before and we want to make sure we don’t do it again,” said McKay.

Pacifica Housing is slated to run the facility.

In 2011, there were protests before Uplands Walk was built in the city’s north end but the building has proven to be an asset.

“All of the neighbourhood’s concerns about property values about crime going up in the neighbourhood have not materialized,” said Dean Fortin, executive director of Pacifica Housing. “In fact, it’s gone the other way. We’re now seeing individuals in that facility are out volunteering more.”

BC Housing says If the current location doesn’t work, and an alternative is provided, it will work with the City to develop the new location.

But back on Cranberry Street, Wagner is already thinking of putting her home up for sale.

Neighbouring residents and businesses are invited to provide comments by emailing [email protected].

Kendall HansonKendall Hanson

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