Demand Public Accountability of BC Housing Drug Facilitation Sites!

Demand Public Accountability of BC Housing Drug Facilitation Sites!

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Important Update - See original petition below
JUL 10, 2020 — 

Under the pretense of “Temporary Covid19 Initiative”, BC Housing has taken to setting up shelter sites across the province for individuals experiencing homelessness. This petition is not opposing this or to minimize the need for proper facilities to assist the homeless population. This petition is about holding BC housing to a higher standard of public accountability. 

The nature of these facilities is dangerous. It is BC Housings position that these projects include safe injection sites, drug use facilitation and non discrimination on criminal background of the individuals they are housing. BC Housing has NO policy in place to protect the public.

I asked the following questions of BC Housing and received the quoted responses:

- Are there any standards in place around setting up these facilities a specific distance from any school etc.?

"There is nothing specific about distances to certain resources that I’m aware of" - Representative for BC Housing 

- Are the individuals staying at the facility screened for criminal background check? What history would limit their acceptance to the facility? For example, if there is a sex offender (who may have their own restrictions regarding proximity to school zones) would they be denied accommodation at a location next to a school?

"BC Housing does not discriminate against a person based on their level of need or past behaviours." - Representative for BC Housing 

During this "emergency" response they have set up these facilities where ever they could, without having to consult the public. Hotels for example keep them within municipality zoning guidelines - so our City Leaders can not object. They are not only housing the local homeless population, but flooding in individuals from surrounding areas. When asked about the guarantee of these being temporary and a timeline, I received the response from BC Housing, that they could not commit to a timeline and that they will remain until they have an alternate facility. 

This means these "temporary sites" are anywhere, any neighborhood, any school zone, under any emergency clause, any time and for any individual with any history; until our communities are forced to establish the infrastructure to properly accommodate the homeless population.

This is something that will take years and be ongoing across the province inevitably.

Our communities need safety now! This facility in particular is only 200m from the main West Kelowna high school. It is located in a family neighbourhood dense with vulnerable seniors, families and children, with 1000s of children from the community needing to walk by the location daily to get to school. But this is not the only neighbourhood; this is province wide. 

BC housing is using these "emergency responses" to fill hotels and other areas across the province, to get away with flooding homeless and addiction populations into our communities. They are doing this with no regard for the location of their placement or public accountability.

I believe we need a province wide initiative demanding our government place the wellbeing of our communities first, by ordering that BC Housing develop a placement policy for these facilities that follows an ethical code. This petition is around a specific location, but banded together with other affected communities we could address this on the provincial level as the residents of BC.  We need to demand the immediate disbandment of BC housing facilities within a specific proximity to certain community resources that place a larger population of vulnerable residents at risk (ie. schools/children facilities, seniors facilities, etc.). This is precedent, as they have violated the code of ethics, to place the wellbeing of the larger group over that of the smaller group and to disclose factors that may pose risks or dangers to our communities. 

This petition is raising awareness and keeping our voices heard; so please keep sharing and signing. Ultimately only a physical signing of a formal petition will hold any weight for our MLA to take to the Legislative Assembly. This is in the works and collaboration is starting with other community groups. 

Please write to our MLA, Ben Stewart - he has agreed to carry our voices. Please include The Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing, Hon. Selina Robinson, who overlooks BC housing for our Provincial Government and Shayne Ramsay, CEO BC Housing. Share you concerns and bring them your ideas for other solutions. Let’s protect our communities together. 

Ben Stewart: ben.stewart.mla@leg.bc.ca

Hon. Selina Robinson: MAH.Minister@gov.bc.ca
Shayne Ramsay, CEO BC Housing c/o Regional BC Housing Office: interiorregion@bchousing.org

mayorandcouncil@westkelownacity.ca
gm@super8westkelowna.com

Contact this petition organization directly: communitysafe@outlook.com

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ORIGINAL PETITION - June 19, 2020:

Save our Neighbourhood, in West Kelowna, from BC Housing Homeless Shelter Agenda

This petition is to raise awareness and gain support to address the use of the Super 8 in Lakeview Heights, West Kelowna as a homeless shelter. Services to support our homeless population is an ongoing and serious issue for our province, but the Government of BC / BC housing has used careless judgement on the placement of a facility at this location.


This property is located right in the middle of 3 school zones. Hudson Road Elementary School, CNB Middle School and the closest, only 200 meters from Mount Boucherie Highschool. The high school students cross this property to their bus stop. The property also shares a fence line with 12 residential homes. The neighborhood is home to numerous day cares and is almost completely family residential.


Since BC housing established this location in early May they have put up “Wet Tents” in the parking lot. These are designated areas for drug use. BC housing puts up these tents when they create shelters because, in dealing with the homeless population there is an inherent drug issue, which the BC Housing has taken the position to facilitate. This is BC housings attempt to contain a devastating pandemic that they have just placed in our neighborhood. This is all less than 25 meters from family residences where kids are playing in their back yards, 100m from a large daycare facility and this is what our community’s teenagers need to walk by to get to school.


This has been erected under the pretence of a “Temporary Covid19 Initiative”; but this should be alarming to all residents of the area. Originally it was only until July 1st and now it is extending to September. We have seen these “temporary plans” across the province develop into long-term housing strategies. The Government of BC has announced numerous roll outs to open up beds in local hotels to the homeless population. We can not be naïve; it is BC housing’s prerogative to create permanent solutions where the community will allow it. Even if they do move on in September, if our community and neighbourhood condone this - we will be the target again for the next pop up encampment.


The current homeless facility on Brown Rd. was supposed to be temporary as well and is still running. They attempted another location in Rose Valley on Stevens road last year which was successfully stopped by the community with a similar petition.
As we head in to summer with Covid 19 still looming and most summer programs cancelled this year, our children will be home in our neighbourhoods. With many parents back to work; most older kids will be alone. This thought may not have been overly concerning for West Kelowna residents because we have felt safe in our neighborhoods. But, Lakeview heights now has this threat to their safety and wellbeing to contend with.


I have visited this property to talk to the individuals staying there and see exactly what is going on. They are there, congregating in the “wet tents”; they are doing their illegal drugs blatantly and in plane sight. They even have a nurse on site to keep them safe. Our government has set this up in our back yard.


What is our government doing to keep us safe and protect us? Drug use is unpredictable and uncontrollable - you can not trust an individual’s actions and intentions while under the influence. What happens when we go for walks or our children go out to play at the park or the school field and they are surrounded by this influx of people walking around high. What about when they are propositioned with drugs or harassed for money as they walk by? What happens when the unpredictable nature of drug use turns violent and harmful? BC housing has placed a highly volatile land mine in the middle of our neighborhood. Are we to keep our children locked inside their homes to prevent them from being exposed to these dangers? And for how long? First it was until July; now it’s all summer.


As home owners we need to also acknowledge the devastating affect that this has to our properties with – increased crime and vandalism statistics – insurance costs – damage repair – marketability.


I can empathise with the need to find solutions for our homeless population. As tax payers, we fund BC Housing to fill this need. But it is also the BC Government’s & our Municipality’s responsibility to keep our communities safe and consider the residents of the neighborhoods that they are impacting. This initiative was carried out with gross negligence in their choice of the location and absolute indifference to warn or address our neighbourhood. We need to hold our elected officials and government bodies to a higher standard. BC housing needs to reassess NOW, TAKE DOWN THE TENTS and find a better suited location that does not have such a harmful impact on our neighborhoods and school zones. 


Please sign this petition to bring back the safe atmosphere of our Lakeview Heights neighborhood.


Please write to our MLA, Ben Stewart - he has agreed to carry our voices. Please include The Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing, Hon. Selina Robinson, who overlooks BC housing for our Provincial Government and Shayne Ramsay, CEO for BC housing. Share you concerns and bring them your ideas for other solutions. Let’s protect West Kelowna’s neighbourhoods together. 


FIND A BETTER LOCATION - TAKE DOWN THE TENTS - MAKE OUR NEIGHBORHOOD SAFE AGAIN