Thursday, October 20, 2011

Low Barrier Housing Letter

Uplands Low Barrier Housing Project

I read with interest the Daily News' article on low-barrier housing as well as their editorial on the issue.  I appreciate the value of editorials in a free press, but to be fair to readers editors have a responsibility to show some balance and should be diligent in their fact checking.  I found neither in the Editorial.  As a society we cannot pursue the worthy cause of ending homelessness at the expense of seniors, children and the democratic process.  The rights of individuals that will be impacted by a low barrier facility in their community also need to be respected.  While not all such facilities are necessarily a problem, some are, and people are legitimately concerned.

As for fact checking, a little research indicates,

- While we don't know for sure whether Uplands will be a wet house, because there is no consultation, the city's own survey says that 96% of homeless clients are addicted and 25% engage in criminal activities. So the odds are the facility will house a large proportion of addicts.

- The fact is that the definition of wet house is quite clear in respect to social housing and allows clients to continue their addictions in their apartments with or without treatment. This is called harm reduction since it gets addicts off the street and in some cases can have a positive outcome.

- The fact is that the Uplands site was selected in an in-camera council meeting, announced by the province without any public input or consultation. BC has open meeting laws which intend that all major decisions affecting the community are made at open meetings. The city's own Action Plan recommends public meetings before any site is selected for supportive housing.

With respect to comments made by the Mayor in your 'Opposition to low-barrier facility builds' article.  One can support supportive housing without supporting the Uplands site. It's not a matter of whether it's good enough for the community, it's a matter of giving the public a say in selecting a suitable location. I believe there are a lot of smart people in Nanaimo and tapping into that resource would achieve results which would not polarize the community. There is no social mandate that says low barrier housing must be located next to seniors and schools. In fact, here is a quote from a major British study;

"The centre should be in neither a residential area nor adjacent to schools, children's
playgrounds or other sensitive facilities, nor should it be in or next to a shopping or tourist area with high pedestrian densities and many visitors.  Some users will inevitably drink in the street on their way to or from the centre, and a high frequency of problematic behaviour will be noticed and brought to the attention of the police, who will be obliged to intervene."

The selection of the Uplands site was likely made in haste in order satisfy scheduling requirements with the provincial government. Surely the province would not have so little compassion as to withdraw the funding for this worthy project just because the community wants a say in the location!

As I proposed to Council on Monday, put this site back on the agenda and give people a chance to participate.

Fred Kardel



  1. Watching the discussion on tv, one of the planners posed a question to a concerned resident, (not verbatim) "Would you help someone if they broke their leg?"

    The obvious answer is yes. I was quite disgusted with that analogy. While I would help someone with a broken leg, I would take them to a safe place, not back to the bottom of a jagged ravine and expect them to make it to the top, safely, on their own.

    The city has blinders on and they know it. They play ignorant, hiding behind skewed statistics. For every statistic for a position, there are statistics against.

    I really question how close their own homes and their families homes are in relation to these facilities. I don't mind throwing people under the bus especially as I'm driving.

  2. It was Councillor Jim Kipp, who posed the question to one of the concerned residents.

  3. That analogy was so stupid. It's not like a person with a broken leg is going to have to resort to crime in order to pay for something to repeatedly break his leg. I hate how much people avoid talking about the effect on society addicts have; yet on the other hand try to comfort us with "but they'll be supervised and it won't ALL be addicts"

  4. Jim Kipp has been nothing but an arrogant ass throughout this project. He claims he stands by his project(only in the Nanaimo Daily News aka Nanaimo City Council News) but yet wont come out and engage the community. He also was ill prepared for the meeting on the Monday night so he brought out a stupid analogy that proved what everyone already knew, he should not be leading this city come November 19th.


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