PARKSVILLE — The opinions were similar but the tone was notably less volatile at an open house in Parksville about a new supportive housing project, compared to one in Nanaimo.
Roughly 200 people came and went through an open house information session Tuesday night about the $7 million, 49-unit supportive housing project at 222 Corfield St. South.
The Island Crisis Care Society will operate the housing and their executive director Violet Hayes said they’ll help a range of people to make a significant impact on Parksville’s homelessness issue.
“Most of the people we’re helping are already living in Parksville and a lot of the people we’ll be helping are seniors who’re homeless. We don’t want a building full of high-needs people, we want a variety. Some that need just a little bit of support, some medium and some who need a lot of support.”
Many of the concerns focused on the location, the proximity to downtown and the impact on neighbour.
Hayes said the community doesn’t have to worry, since she and the Island Crisis Care Society are invested in making sure the site will remain clean.
“I’m motivated to ensure it’s a great building and stays a great building. We’ll be working with the residents to ensure they realize it’s their community too so they can take part in cleaning up the community, which we hope will improve things.”
Resident Adam Fras, who was recruiting people outside the open house to sign a petition against the Corfield St. location, said he wasn’t convinced the site was right for anyone.
“One of the things (the homeless) really require is having some privacy and some space. The downtown location doesn’t provide that for them. They don’t have the option to come out and not be in the public eye. They don’t have a place where they can open their windows and not be seen.”
When asked if any other locations would be preferred, Fras and others supporting the petition said they hadn’t had a chance to consider alternatives, since they learned about the project two weeks ago.
Many residents opposing the location also made their opinions known during Monday’s council meeting, arguing there were better spots and the housing wasn’t a development Parksville needed right now.
Carolyn Rice, who recently inherited a house close to the proposed housing location, said she was optimistic and hopeful about the development.
“It’s a caring community that builds projects like this,” she said. “If people could open their eyes to this idea that when you give people a hand up, a place to live and create something stable in their lives, they’ll do better. When you treat people like human beings, they’ll exceed your expectations.”
Parksville staff are now working on a bylaw amendment to rezone the property and it’s expected to come up before council again in a matter of weeks.
Story written by Spencer Sterritt