Queensborough Services Enhancement and Risk-mitigation for Women's Housing Initiative

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PETITION TO THE BC LEGISLATURE REGARDING THE PUBLIC HOUSING DEVELOPMENT AT 838 EWEN IN NEW WESTMINSTER

 

PREAMBLE

838 Ewen Avenue in New Westminster, a City-owned site, has been selected as a site for modular supportive housing for women at  risk of homelessness.  This site is the current location of the Queensborough Skatepark, Queensborough water park,  Queensborough Community Centre ( which houses a preschool, daycare and a library,), three play parks for infants and toddlers, and shares public grounds inclusive of Queen Elizabeth Elementary and Queensborough Middle School. Contextually, Queensborough is a geographically restricted location, situated on the far eastern tip of Lulu Island, connected to the City of New Westminster via the Queensborough bridge. Highway 91A, the thoroughfare which connects Queensborough to the City and outlying areas of the Lower Mainland, faces major congestion at peak periods and is frequently impacted by severe delays due to collisions in and around the area.  Queensborough’s geographic location and aging traffic infrastructure makes it difficult for local and regional travel, impeding access to Emergency Services, access to amenities and private/public services, impacting residents and the prospective operators/tenants of the modular housing project.


The aforementioned proposal is for 44 self-contained modular homes with support for women who have experienced homelessness or are at risk of homelessness. This project will also include a percentage of women experiencing current/in recovery for addictions and/or mental illness and/or behavioural issues, as well as women who may be at risk for experiencing gendered violence.  A significant number of these prospective residents will also require access to diverse public and private services, including access to outpatient health/mental health services, acute public services, social programs to enhance skills/quality of life, and more.

In addition to specific location of this housing project, the physical context for this housing will be within Queensborough, a geographically-restricted community with extremely limited public and private services, including:

  • No local physicians or walk-in clinics;
  • No local mental health services (all current services require x2 buses/transport modes);
  • Significant delays for ambulance services;
  • Significant distance from emergency health services/Royal Columbian Hospital, especially during peak travel periods;
  • No fixed or continuously required police presence within Queensborough; 
  • High demand on local New Westminster Fire Department station as the sole fixed emergency service in the area; and,
  • Limited/unreliable public transportation (buses are overwhelmingly overcrowded, late and provide limited service on evenings and weekends)

Queensborough Residents For Responsible Community Planning (QRRCP) is a group of local residents who are concerned with the precise location of this project, given its close proximity to large groups of children accessing school and community services (home to over 680 students).  The group would like to register our opposition to the speed at which the Provincial Government of BC has pushed through the conditions of this project, effectively pressuring the City of New Westminster to fast track the public consultation process. The City of New Westminster has subsequently been forced to make communication shortcuts that have prevented residents from effectively registering concerns over the placement and framework of the project.  The Provincial timeline for this project has resulted in shortcuts by the City, who have failed to work collaboratively with local stakeholders and the community to problem-solve and address issues surrounding site location, risk mitigation and service enhancement.

Although we are not in opposition to the existence of this project in New Westminster or Queensborough specifically, the QRRCP wishes to formally register their opposition to the placement of the modular housing project at 838 Ewen Street and its proximity to the Park, Community Centre, Elementary and Middle schools.

In addition to site opposition, the QRRCP requests that the City of New Westminster work in tandem with relevant Provincial bodies and other stakeholders (such as the Elizabeth Fry Society, NW Police, NW Fire, etc...) to establish both risk assessment and risk mitigation plans for this site.

Finally, the QRRCP requests that the City  and Provincial government work within the community to help establish stronger public services while instituting measures to encourage the development of private services within the direct community. Queensborough needs measures to be put in place to support both public housing residents and also men, women and families within the broader Queensborough community who also need access to similar services and resources.  The overall goal of the QRRCP is for the housing project to be properly situated and supported, thus ensuring the safety of local children and families while also effectively enriching the lives of women involved in the supportive housing.  


FORMAL PETITION

To the Honourable Legislative Assembly of the Province of British Columbia, in Legislature Assembled:

The petition of the undersigned, concerned citizens states that our respectful request that the Provincial Government of British Columbia work in tandem with the City of New Westminster and all relevant stakeholders to consider the following:

  • Relocate the housing project site away from the Queensborough Community Centre/QE/QMS schools where the current site is in direct proximity to over 680 students and hundreds of additional children who are potentially at risk to harm from exposure to active drug use, a potential increase in local drug trade/associated criminal activity, and, individuals exhibiting high risk mental health behaviours;
  • That the City of New Westminster and BC Provincial Government recognise the significant gap in public and private services for both Queensborough residents and potential housing clients, with an overall goal of establishing and enhancing public services while also promoting/working in partnership with local stakeholders and business to promote establishment of crucial private services (such as medical clinics, etc…);
  • Extend the timeline for community consultations to ensure the project is adequately serviced, including a comprehensive feedback and stakeholder collaboration/support phase between local residents & businesses, Elizabeth Fry Society (the appointed service provider), School District 40, Fraser Health, local Emergency Services, the City of New Westminster, Translink, various Provincial authorities, and additional stakeholders as necessary (such as the Food Bank, local non-profits, etc…);
  • That the Province of British Columbia and City of New Westminster provide residents/stakeholders with assurances and concrete plans for how concerns around policing, health care, social services and others will be addressed;
  • That the City of New Westminster, BC Provincial Government and Service Provider (EFry) actively work with local residents and additional stakeholders collaboratively to implement both multi-modal support and risk-mitigation plans that not only enhance the quality of life for project residents but the broader community.

Your petitioners respectfully request that the Honourable House fully take the above request under immediate consideration to ensure the enrichment and safety for all residents of Queensborough in New Westminster, BC, including those of our neighbours located within Provincially funded housing.



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