Letters

Does City of Courtenay need 'high-priced imported experts?'

Dear editor,

Talk about putting the cart before the horse again.

It seems that the recently purchased land on Braidwood is going to have some opposition if it is used for a homeless shelter.

The mayor envisages about 40 single-room occupancy homes and over the next few months a consultant has been hired to prepare a request for proposals, on the viability of establishing a housing complex to support the homeless.

He will also report back on a range of housing options for the site, presumably in case the neighbourhood residents oppose the main purpose of this exercise.

It seems to me that rather than get stuck again with another site that may not be suitable for a shelter, it would have been prudent to make a conditional offer to purchase the land, subject to neighbourhood approval/rezoning. At the same time, a list of the different housing options and priorities should have been established.

I gained some experience on similar issues In 1965 when I was hired by the Yukon government to help administer a low-cost housing program in the Whitehorse area.

One of the responsibilities was an attempt to move people from temporary shelters erected along the banks of the Yukon River in areas known as Whiskey Flats and Sleepy Hollow. The structures were assessed and the occupants were given cash on the condition that the structures would be removed.

You can guess what happened. The cash was used for living expenses and materials were scrounged to build another structure.

I seemed to recall that the quality of construction improved over time and some  of these homeless people graduated to the next program — a low-cost housing option for low-income couples with no down payment.

The homes were very modest — around 1,000 square feet — with a central space heater. Low-interest first mortgages were provided and they were constructed on individual subsidized lots in rural subdivisions to NBC standards. The program was very successful.

I would recommend that the planning department study the report I submitted to the mayor concerning a practicum by Blaine Russell, titled Understanding the role of Recreational Vehicles and Park Model Trailers as an Alternative Housing Option, dated Dec. 13, 2006.

There is widespread use of this type of accommodation in every community on Vancouver Island, including Courtenay.

I am sure that there are many people living in the area with useful knowledge to help on these types of projects, instead of paying high-priced imported experts to advise the City.

Incidentally, with the growth of the planning and engineering departments  at City Hall, you would think that these highly qualified employees should be able to take care of the surveys, etc.

Brian Woodason,

Courtenay

Editor's note: No decision has been made for a homeless shelter at the Braidwood site.

 

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