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Friday, May 27, 2011

Empire Days

This will likely be the last for this year though there may be another letter or two which I will post here if they come in.

Philip Wolf: Hard to make real change Comments following the column are once again interesting.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Convention Centre usage plummets

The story below, from a few weeks back, shows how bad things are with the NNC and simply reinforces the information I put out in the last post on this subject

Conference Centre usage plunges a whopping 68%

Empire Days 144 years

So another Empire Days has come and gone with very little fanfare. Some of the comments on the DN story of the 19th are very amusing though and worth a read. Three letters at this point have been published including mine in response to Diane Denton's of the 21st. I think it but just a matter of time before there is a change to the naming of the weekend in Nanaimo though it will not come soon enough for me.

Time to rename long weekend celebration
Philip Wolf, The Daily News
Published: Thursday, May 19, 2011

Letter: May 21, 2011
Empire days volunteers deserve more praise

May 24

Gord Fuller
Wanting new name is no dishonour to volunteers

Dave Cutts
Honouring Victoria at least gives us a day off

Supportive Housing letters May 17 - 20

May 20
More civilized debate needed on housing issue

May 19
People have a right to preserve their safety

May 18
Opposition to social housing discriminatory

Bulletin May 18
Earlier discussion needed on proposal

May 17
Fear is weapon used to oppose social housing

Mistrust breeds fear and anger on important issue

Monday, May 16, 2011

Couple Letters - Supportive Housing

Just sent these off:

To Bulletin May 16, 2011-05-16

The fact that so many people, on both sides of the supportive housing issue, took time to attend and speak at the 12 plus hours of public hearings illustrates a few things. People are passionate about their community and there has been a lack of open communication and accurate information, not totally attributable to city staff, about the issue of supportive social housing.

Much research has been presented by both sides of the debate, some blatantly false and some not even pertinent to what Nanaimo is doing. Many letters to the editor actually push the bounds of reality. Fact is no matter what your opinion you can find something on the internet to support it but as can be the case in this process the way the information is used leads too much of it being half truths.

What has been the worst is the downright nastiness and use of fear that has galvanized many. A simple question, how well do you really know your existing neighbours?

Threats and fear tactics are not conducive to a meaningful discussion and cloud the issue of housing to help the homeless. Discussion should have happened far earlier and perhaps to a large degree some of the vitriolic comments and innuendo could have been avoided.

To Daily News May 16, 2011

While I very much appreciate the Daily News attempts to clarify the issues I think it may actually have had the opposite effect.

We know, from local examples, that Warmlands in Duncan and the Balmoral in Nanaimo have helped alleviate preexisting problems in their respective areas. RCMP and school officials have sited no problems in Duncan and the RCMP in Nanaimo are in favour of supportive housing.

Up to 40 units will be built on Wesley St. and 36 to 40 are proposed for both Dufferin and Bowen Rd. sites. Numbers at these two sites are not set in stone and could be changed. There is also the potential to sell the Bowen Rd. site towards the purchase of other sites in the city.

While many spoke about smaller scale abstinence or treatment based housing the funding available is for the use of low barrier housing. Funding for these other types will be sought in the future.

Fear has been the weapon of many of those opposed; i.e. supportive housing will bring an influx of drug dealers and prostitutes to the area; there will be needles left all over the place and crime will increase. None of this is borne out by fact.

As stated by many, much of the problems they fear the supportive housing will bring are already in existence in the area as in most areas of the city. Will implementation of Supportive Social Housing eliminate the existing problems? I doubt it but I also doubt, as has been the case with both Warmlands and the Balmoral, they will contribute to more of the same.

The latest supportive housing

May 14
After explosive public meetings social housing likely an election issue
Setting the record straight on a few of the housing facts
Community must look after most vulnerable
May 16

Walking A Mile In Her Shoes

I participated in this event on Saturday Men slip on stilettos to fight violence a lot of fun and I managed to raise almost $900.00 in pledges. T'was also a lot of pain for me as I had agreed to wear stilettoes and within 100ft after starting the walk I fell down twice, didn't feel the pain till the following day. It was fortunate that I had, as a spare, the shoes I wore last year, wedges with a substantial heal. Finished the walk wearing them and am looking forward to doing it again next year. When I do I will try the shoes first, want to do stilletos again, making sure they are more of a proper fit. I think part of the problem with the ones I tried was that they were too tight and also closed toe.

2011 Attempt

The back ups

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Dead On

Every once in a while and editorial will come out in a Nanaimo paper that is dead on. If you have any idea about the happenings in Nanaimo you need to read this, they don't get much better

Nanaimo politicians might want to aim a little higher

Friday, May 13, 2011

More Supportive Again

Below is the second presentation I made on the Bowen Rd. Rezoning follwed by more news stories and letters, from both sides. If the link is directly to a story from the daily news you can read comments made about the story otherwise I ended up taking the links from Canada.Com. Was just the easiest way. One really should read the comments, a great feature of many web based newspapers, they can be both enlightening and scary.

Re: Rezoning
BYLAW NO. 4000.506

Gordon W. Fuller
604 Nicol St.
Nanaimo, BC
V9R 4T9

To clarify earlier comments from earlier presenters:
Columbian Centre Society does have a 10 person capacity but they also have 5 such buildings on the same site.
Warmlands is I believe 20 – 24 supportive housing units plus an additional low barrier shelter.
Through a Blue Lens (documentary) and the comment “is this the type of neighbourhood you want to create?” This is about the Downtown Eastside, an area even former mayor Larry Campbell has stated was in a large part created b the concentration of social services of all kinds. This is in no way related to what Nanaimo’s Homeless Action Plan proposes.
Addiction or the use/abuse of drugs & alcohol is a complicated issue. You heard earlier from Wallace Malay, myself and others that have experienced it and moved forward. There is not one simple solution that fits all. We need a variety of services to meet the need of a variety of people. This is proposed in Nanaimo’s Action Plan.

Honourable Mayor and Council.

I am in support of the rezoning for reasons that will become clear.

In over a decade of paying attention to council issues I do not recall ever having seen an instance where a public hearing has spanned 4 sessions. This is in my opinion not a bad thing as I believe everyone, no matter their opinion, has a right to be heard. It does however illustrate the failings in the communication process with the neighbourhood about the importance of Supportive Social Housing and Nanaimo’s Response to Homelessness Action Plan. I am reminded of the saying “you reap what you sow” and council certainly has been bearing the brunt of what one could consider a bad harvest.

Key to Nanaimo’s strategy is Action 6 of its plan; FACILITATE COMMUNITY ACCEPTANCE.
I quote, “Facilitating community acceptance will be key to the effective implementation of the Action Plan.
Examples of proposed steps include:
• Early engagement, in advance of any announcements of sites or funding;
• Developing a locational plan that disperses housing and services;
• Communication with the public, neighbours, businesses, agencies and service
providers on aspects of plan implementation on an ongoing basis; and
• Establishing good neighbour agreements.
Sure we had a public open house when the Homeless Action Plan was developed but we all know that these types of open houses do not draw a huge crowd. Yes in 2010 the proposed site on Dufferin was brought to a meeting in the Hospital area but it was couched within a meeting publicized to be primarily around parking issues, the housing only being brought up at the meeting. Had the public known what was actually on the agenda I am sure far more people would have attended.

Were these “communication with the public, neighbours, businesses, agencies and service providers on aspects of plan implementation on an ongoing basis? “ Technically yes, in reality not. If council and city staff has not already started to sow the seeds with the proposed housing for the North End then I fear you will continue to reap an unsavoury harvest.

Tonight I am not going to bombard you, or creator forbid bore you, with a lot of research. Much has been said, and research provided, by those on both sides of this issue. Some is accurate, anyone can find results on the inter web to support their particular opinion, and some information is outright false. An example of the latter being the alleged stabbing by one resident of another at Warmlands in Duncan. This did not happen.

Fear has been the weapon of many of those opposed; i.e. supportive housing will bring an influx of drug dealers and prostitutes to the area; there will be needles left all over the place and crime will increase. None of this is borne out by fact. The reality is that to some degree, as has been stated by numerous of those opposed, much of this is already in existence in the area as it is in most areas of the city. I feel for the young lady who spoke last week about finding a syringe but it does illustrate what I just said.

Will the implementation of the proposed Supportive Social Housing put a stop to it? I doubt it but I also doubt that it will contribute to more of the same. Using the Balmoral Hotel as an example I can categorically state that it has contributed to an improvement of the area since CMHA took it over. Yes there are still problems in the neighbourhood but they are in no way attributable to the Balmoral and are in no way of the extent they were when the Balmoral was an unsupervised SRO building.

Most street level drug users are ambivalent and want nothing to do with any perceived authority such as the 24 hour staffing and ongoing support that will be in place in the proposed housing. Building this housing will however give some of these folk a safe option when they do start to contemplate change.

From my personal experiences, 25 years, with homelessness as well as alcohol & drug abuse and from my experience of the last 15 years working with people currently facing these issues I know that the supportive housing being proposed in Nanaimo has the potential to save lives. The reality is also that this housing will not be strictly used by tenants with mental illness and addictions, but will house a mix of tenants as mentioned in the Homeless Action Plan and I quote “A mix or balance of tenant characteristics improves the fit into the building and community”

One comment made to council last week in the realm of a veiled threat, others more blatant have been given, is this. “Political will is followed by peoples will and you should remember that.” All I ask is that you remember that each and every one of you also represents the disenfranchised; the homeless and those with addictions.

The ideas being brought forward about abstinence based housing and treatment centres are certainly needed, not just in Nanaimo but elsewhere as well. Some of this is already taking place and more is in the works. What we have now is funding for supportive housing, not these other things. I can guarantee to those in the audience that once this housing is built we will be looking for funding for many of these other services.

I encourage people to read A Response to Homelessness in Nanaimo: A Housing First Approach Relevant Best Practices as well as Nanaimo’s Response to Homelessness Action Plan, both available on the City of Nanaimo website.

In my last presentation I offered an option that I hope will be seriously considered by council and that I believe can meet the needs of all sides in the debate. Rezone this property and then sell it to a developer for mixed use commercial and housing. Take the proceeds and purchase one or two properties in other areas of Nanaimo for Supportive Housing and make sure that communication is started immediately with the public, neighbours, and businesses in these areas.

I also want to offer one more suggestion limit the sizes of the buildings on all properties, including the one already proposed on Dufferin Crescent, to 26 units. 26 units is more manageable and in line with many other Supportive Housing initiatives in other cities across North America including Vancouver and Toronto. It works. As a community we share responsibility for all those in the community and collectively we need to move forward with the provision of safe housing to those most in need.

Lastly I just want to say that the neighbourhood has certainly espoused some very colourful and negative opinions of the disenfranchised. I would urge them to recognize that these are fathers, mothers, sisters, brothers, sons, and daughters. Very likely to the very residents, your neigbours, who already live in the area. Some may even have been students at Quarterway. None were likely influenced by housing except in that which they grew up.

I also want to restate my invitation for anyone wishing to come down to the 7-10 Club. I will be more than happy to introduce you to some of those who will benefit from this housing.


May 14
Low barrier housing stance is principled

By Derek Spalding, The Daily News May 12, 2011
Misinformation fuels opposition to housing plan

The Daily News May 12, 2011
Council can't waiver on low barrier plan

By Sandra Shaw, The Daily News May 12, 2011
'11th hour' consultation on housing is not enough

By Derek Spalding, Daily News May 7, 2011
Public hearing shut down after going well into the night another round set for Wednesday

Published: Saturday, May 07, 2011
Time to dispel confusion about housing plan

The Daily News May 6, 2011
Real dialogueneeded over social housing

By Bob Winkler, The Daily News May 4, 2011
Housing plan doesn't put Nanaimo families first

Published: Friday, April 29, 2011
Sell one city property to upport housing plan

By Derek Spalding, Daily News April 23, 2011
Gruelling debate over social housing plan goes to third night

Endangered Species?

My comments are below this brief story.

Port Authority Officially Opens New Cruise Ship Terminal

The Nanaimo Port Authority, politicians of every stripe and more than 170 invited guests were on hand last Friday to officially open the stunning new $24 million Nanaimo Cruise Ship Terminal.The facility took 10 months to build, on the northeast corner of the Nanaimo Assembly Wharf terminal, near the Gabriola Island ferry terminal. It has a 350-foot floating dock capable of berthing 1,050-foot vessels and a 13,775 square foot welcome centre that will have a Canadian Border Service Agency office. The port authority administration office will relocate there this summer. Improved access, new roadways, parking and a pick-up and drop-off for coaches are also included in the design.

Question? Why was I not invited? It was my and your taxes that paid for this so it should have been open to the public. Sure they say there will be a general opening but what makes these folk any more special than you or I.

The Picture entitled Endangered Species is something I wanted to show in part due to the fact that there are only four cruise ships scheduled this year to land at the new facility. The number of cruises that have been stopping in the harbour prior to this year has been on the decline and there is no gaurantee they will not stop altogether. If I recall Disney no longer has criuise ships stopping in Vancouver favouring Seattle instead.

I hope I am wrong but fear I am not and we will be paying for this, as we already do the Convention Centre, for years to come.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Supportive Saga & Stuff

Another public hearing tonight, the third on the rezoning issue for Supportive Housing at the Bowen Rd. location in Nanaimo. These have been packed events, largely by those opposed, and there could be another scheduled next week. I have heard through the grapevine that City Staff have been consulting with city lawyers as to how many public hearings are required. For me it would be as many as it takes to have everyone interested heard. If they were to stop them after tonight and there were more people wanting to speak then the shit would really hit the fan.

Below two letters, one on the 26th April mentioning me and the other my response.
Sell one city property to support housing plan
April 29, 2011
Wet house opponents will not give up the fight
April 26, 2011

The 7-10 Club an organization which I chair, though am in reality an unpaid executive director, is having its AGM shortly.

Haven Society is having its now annual Walk A Mile in Her Shoes on May 14th. I will be participating and am seeking pledges. . If you would like to make a pledge, via credit card, in my name you can do it by clicking on the following and scrolling down then clicking on sponsor me . If you would like to make a cash donation let me know and I can pick it up.