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Open Letter urging Nanaimo City Council to extend closing date of tent city

(Nanaimo) This Open Letter signed by 70 signatories in one day including Greater Nanaimo Chamber of Commerce, United Way Central and Northern Vancouver Island, and other Nanaimo and province-wide groups was sent to Nanaimo City Council yesterday evening

October 11, 2018

Dear Nanaimo City Council,

“We know ending homelessness is a journey of a thousand steps, and so with each step we aim to make life a little bit better for community members seeking long-term housing. In doing this work, in ending homelessness, we are also guided by a second vision: to ensure that people experiencing homelessness also find a secure place in the community, to feel that they belong in Nanaimo. We aim to make people feel that they have a home, in all the senses of that word.” 

This is drawn from Nanaimo’s Action Plan to End Homelessness launched earlier this year by the Nanaimo Homelessness Coalition, which includes among many others, you, the City of Nanaimo. The 5-year Action Plan intends to lay out a pathway to “achieve a city where everyone has safe and stable housing.”

Today, we urge Nanaimo City Council to honour this commitment by extending the current closing date of October 12th for the tent city situated at 1 Port Drive to align with the Ministry of Housing’s provision of temporary workforce modular housing. 

The Ministry of Housing has made a significant investment in buying one of the proposed sites and the temporary trailers, and we thank you for your contribution of land at the other site to provide enough space for 170 units. As you know, the trailers are coming from Fort St. John and will arrive next week but will not be serviced for use until late November. Despite the delay, this shelter is worth waiting for as displacing homeless people from tent city does not benefit the homeless or the broader community.

The BC Supreme Court decision delivered on September 21st, which provided the City with the injunction due to be applied on Friday, October 12th, also stated: “Given the length of time that the Tent City has been in place, and the precarious circumstances of many of the residents, it is important that the dismantling occur in an “orderly and sensitive fashion” and in a time frame that permits people to look for suitable alternative accommodation.” Delaying the closing date in light of the new announcement by the Ministry of Housing, which will provide that “alternative accommodation,” would be aligned with The Honourable Mr. Justice Skolrood’s decision.

Solving the challenges of poverty and homelessness requires all three levels of government, as well as the non-profit sector, working in collaboration. Municipal councils cannot address these pressing social issues alone and yet they face them daily as they show up at the local level within our communities. This is why it is so important to align your commitments with provincial and federal strategies to address homelessness when you can, and this is an opportunity to do that.

Everyone deserves safe and stable housing and we welcome your contribution to realizing this.

Thank you for your consideration in this urgent matter.

Sincerely,
Kix Citton, Nanaimo Brain Injury Society
Gordon Cote, Director, NARSF Programs Ltd, Nanaimo
Andy Gilman, Chair, Comox-Nanaimo Presbytery of the United Church of Canada
Jason Harrison, CMHA Mid-Island Branch, Nanaimo
Violet Hayes, Island Crisis Care Society, Nanaimo
Deborah Hollins, Nanaimo Family Life Association
Signy Madden, United Way Central and Northern Vancouver Island, Nanaimo
Laura McLeod, Technical Safety BC, Nanaimo
Ellen Oxman, Nanaimo Duncan District Labour Council 
Kim Smythe, Greater Nanaimo Chamber of Commerce
Fred Statham, Nanaimo city council candidate
 
Susan Abells, Committee to End Homelessness Victoria
Jill Atkey, BC Non Profit Housing Association
Neil Belanger, B.C. Aboriginal Network on Disability Society
Jane Bouey
William K. Carroll, Professor of Sociology, University of Victoria
Stuart Clark, PREP Community Programs (Supportive Housing Provider), Powell River
Rosemary Collins, Wilson Heights United Church, Vancouver South Presbytery (United Church)
Tom Cooper, City in Focus
Margaret Coutts
Laura Dilley, PACE Society
Adrian Dolling
Stephen D’Souza, Burnaby Community Services
Hilary Eastmure
Trish Garner, BC Poverty Reduction Coalition
Maggie Hertzberg, Pacifica Housing
Joyce Harris, Sisters of St. Ann
Wes Hewitt, Port Alberni Shelter Society
Cindy Holmes, Assistant Professor, School of Social Work, University of Victoria
Katrina Kiefer, CMHA-Port Alberni
Doug King, Together Against Poverty Society
Miranda Liebel, Peers Victoria
Kayla Lilledahl, Pacifica Housing
Sharon MacDonald, Pacifica Housing
Louise Mangan, Co-Convener, InterSpiritual Sustainability Council 
Heather McCain, Citizens for Accessible Neighbourhoods
The Venerable Alastair McCollum, Archdeacon Diocese of British Columbia, Incumbent St John the Divine, Victoria
Devin Mckenzie
Lindsay Miles-Pickup
John Millar, Public Health Association of BC, Health Officers’ Council, MSDPR’s Advisory Forum member
Jamey Mills, Regional Executive Vice-President, Public Service Alliance of Canada BC Region
Adrienne Montani, Provincial Coordinator, First Call: BC Child and Youth Advocacy Coalition
Dr. Jean Moore
Mehmoona Moosa-Mitha, Associate Professor, School of Social Work, University of Victoria
Anne Morris
Tabitha Naismith, MSDPR’s Advisory Forum member
Erik Nelson, Poverty Law Advocate Program, Kamloops & District Elizabeth Fry Society
Amber Neufeld, Surrey Urban Mission Society
Gaë​lle Nicolussi, Research Associate, Canadian Institute for Substance Use Research, University of Victoria
Luisa Ospina
Noel Ouellette
Josh Paterson, BC Civil Liberties Association
Lyana Patrick, previous Board, Basics for Health
Bernie Pauly, Canadian Institute for Substance Use Research
Wendy Pedersen, DTES SRO Collaborative Society
Dr. Ana Maria Peredo, Professor, Political Ecology, University of Victoria
Erin Peters, Streams of Justice
Lynne Phillips, Member of the Ancient Forest Alliance
Rachel Phillips, Peers Victoria
Erin Pritchard, Lawyer
Marjory Reitsma-Street, Professor Emerita, University of Victoria
Graham Riches, Professor Emeritus, UBC School of Social Work
Kristi Rintoul
Jeanne Robert, Vancouver Island Human Rights Coalition
Halena Seiferling, Living Wage for Families Campaign
Tara Shushtarian
Kelli I. Stajduhar, Professor, School of Nursing, University of Victoria
Harry FC Street, MSW 
Karen Urbanoski, Canada Research Chair in Substance Use, Addictions and Health Services, Assistant Professor, School of Public Health & Social Policy, University of Victoria
Bruce Wallace, Associate Professor, UVIC School of Social Work
Mary Wolfe
Mandy Yeomans, Manager, Haley Place

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For interviews or to sign on to the letter, contact: 

Trish Garner, Community Organizer
BC Poverty Reduction Coalition
trish@bcpovertyreduction.ca