An editorial by Mel Rothenburger.
NOT IN MY BACKYARD is a label often put on opponents of certain developments, especially those that involve social housing. But is NIMBYism always such a bad thing, or is it sometimes an understandable response?
Many Canadian studies have been done on the impacts of social housing on surrounding areas and most conclude property values aren’t lowered. Keep in mind that many of those studies are based on assessed values rather than selling prices.
Those same studies also indicate there’s usually no increase in crime rates when social housing moves in. But that doesn’t mean never, and there are examples of that in Kamloops.
There’s no shortage of people who will attest to higher crime rates on Victoria Street West, the Tranquille Road corridor and Columbia Street West being connected to social housing.
So when a Valleyview motor sports dealership is broken into for the fourth time in seven months, as was the case last week, the owners can be forgiven for wondering if nearby social housing units are a factor.
And when residents around Kingston Avenue find out a temporary social housing project will go up in their Westmount neighbourhood, it shouldn’t be surprising that they wonder why there was no consultation ahead of time.
There are good and bad locations for much-needed social housing, and stereotyping those who need it is inappropriate. But such concerns need to be discussed in advance, and there was a time when they would have been. Plans would have been clearly laid out, the community would have provided input, and a decision made accordingly.
Consultation now comes after housing decisions have been made rather than before. The excuse is that there’s no time to do it the right way. One can’t help but suspect it also conveniently avoids dealing with objections.
It won’t change until local leaders stand up to BC Housing and insist on proper process. Unfortunately, there’s no sign of that happening.
Mel Rothenburger is a former mayor of Kamloops and a retired newspaper editor. He is a regular contributor to CFJC Today, publishes the ArmchairMayor.ca opinion website, and is a director on the Thompson-Nicola Regional District board. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.