People living in Parksville supportive housing now poised to be forced out

People living in Parksville supportive housing now poised to be forced out
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The manager of a Parksville hotel currently used for supportive housing is upset that the people staying there now have an uncertain future.

BC Housing has been using the VIP motel, renamed Ocean Place, for supportive housing but last week Parksville City Council denied a temporary use application that would’ve allowed people to stay at the motel until March 31.

It means the 21 residents who live there will have to move out.

The decision worries those who support the residents.

“You don’t want them out on the street and yet you don’t want them housed. I don’t understand. There have been no problems here,” said Kelly Morris, the manager of Ocean Place.

“I think it’s a terrible shame. I think that they’re displacing some very troubled people that have nowhere to go,” said Robert Tutty, a director with the Oceanside Homelessness Ecumenical Advocacy Response Team Society.

With BC Housing funding the operation for the past year residents include some waiting to get into recovery while others are low-income seniors.

Resident Roderick Nall says having the roof over his head has been huge.

“We’re trying to move forward and this is giving us a chance to do it. The housing in this town is next to none,” said Nall.

Parksville’s mayor was among the majority who denied the temporary use permit.

“Because of the negative effect on the neighbourhood and also on the surrounding businesses. We received a number of complaints from all of those individuals telling us they didn’t want this located in their neighbourhood,” said Mayor Ed Mayne.

Mayne says BC Housing never consulted the city about putting supportive housing at the motel in the first place as they should have but the city will help reach a fair solution.

“We’re going to work with BC Housing to establish a written compliance agreement that would provide a reasonable time frame for example for up to 180 days to allow an orderly relocation of those individuals,” said Mayne.

The mayor says there’s no other appropriate location for supportive housing in Parksville.

“There’s a community of 48,000 around Parksville that could in fact find a place for these individuals,” said Mayne.

Coun. Doug O’Brien, who is running against Ed Mayne to become Parksville’s next mayor, says he voted to approve the temporary use permit because it would’ve provided some certainty for those being housed as well as for the city.

He said there’s now no certainty about when residents will have to be out as the municipal election is just about to start.

Kelly Morris is inviting the mayor, council, candidates and the public to come to a barbecue at the property this Saturday between noon to 4 p.m.

“Get your stigma out of the way and come on down. You have nothing to fear,” said Morris.

BC Housing says it’s “exploring all possible options for the people staying at the motel,” adding that everyone benefits when people at risk of homelessness have housing.

BC Housing says it also expects to put out an update soon.

Kendall HansonKendall Hanson

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