Discussion closes on low-barrier housing issue

The public had its say, now it will be up to Nanaimo city council to decide whether to rezone property at 1406 Bowen Rd. to allow for a 36-unit low-barrier housing facility.

The public had its say, now it will be up to Nanaimo city council to decide whether to rezone property at 1406 Bowen Rd. to allow for a 36-unit low-barrier housing facility.

The contentious issue required four, four-hour public hearings over the last month, each filling Shaw Auditorium to or beyond its 200-seat capacity.

Throughout the the hearings, the majority of residents spoke out against the proposal, citing its close proximity to Quarterway Elementary School as a concern. Others were worried about property values, while some suggested it would bring dubious social activity to the neighbourhood.

Mayor John Ruttan said the issue is now closed for discussion until council votes on the third reading and possible adoption at a regular council meeting May 30.

The public hearing was prompted by the first two readings of the rezoning application, which passed 7-1  last month. Coun. Bill Bestwick opposed.

The social housing facility is part of the province’s Housing First strategy, designed to get drug users, alcohol abusers and people with mental illness off city streets and into facilities where programs are available to encourage rehabilitation.

There are four other low-barrier facilities expected to be built in the city, though the Bowen Road property is the only one that requires a rezoning process.

As part of the program, the city is required to provide the land for the facilities, while the province partners with the Vancouver Island Health Authority and Canadian Mental Health Association to provide staff and programming.

Nanaimo News Bulletin