Trial alleging improper process for Nanaimo supportive housing starts

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Watch Neighbours behind lawsuit say they should've been consulted

Some neighbours of a new Nanaimo supportive housing project say it never should have been built.

They were in BC Supreme Court on Tuesday, claiming the province ignored the legal process and their rights when it purchased the six parcels of land and built the housing.

The modular housing project at 250 Terminal Avenue has been providing a place to live to 80 formerly homeless people since it opened 11 months ago.

“When there’s a situation like this that comes in that maybe is at odds with the official community plan or the current zoning normally the residents get to exercise their democratic rights, go to the city, present their views as to what they want to see changed or don’t like. Other people present their views and the city decides,” said Martin Buhler, the plaintiff’s lawyer.

Lawyers for BC Housing say the housing was a social priority and the B.C. government has the authority to build it.

Gail Johannes is one of the neighbours hoping the lawsuit is successful.

“We weren’t consulted. They just brought it in and it’s not the right area for it. There’s a lot that goes on over there. Noise at night.”

Johannes who has a view of the supportive housing says she’s often been awoken at night as people climb over the nearby fence.

But other neighbours say while there were a lot of problems initially, they’ve slowly subsided and this lawsuit seems like it’s wasting resources that could help the homeless.

“I think that’s kind of ridiculous cause they had to put these individuals somewhere and they were living in tents,” said Kasie Moore, a neighbour.

The implications of the court action succeeding aren’t entirely clear as the housing is already in place but potentially there would have to be consultations about the housing moving forward, especially if the contract for the Nanaimo supportive housing site is to be renewed after three years.

The lawsuit was launched in November 2018.

The trial is scheduled for three days.

Kendall HansonKendall Hanson

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