EDITORIAL – Moira House must prove itself to neighbourhood, community
An editorial by Mel Rothenburger.
THE MOIRA HOUSE facility for the homeless officially opens Friday, and there’s a lot riding on it.
Plans for the project didn’t get off to a good start. The deal between BC Housing, the City and the Canadian Mental Health Association for the Kingston Avenue property was made without advance public consultation.
That’s become standard with BC Housing projects — do the deal, consult later. The excuse is always lack of time. Maybe the new MOU between the City and BC Housing will fix that but the Westmount neighbourhood must live with the project for at least three years, possibly five.
All three partners in Moira House speak highly of the facility, about how it will provide a “warm, safe place” for people trying to escape drug addictions and homelessness and find some purpose.
There will be individual rooms, three squares a day and outdoor spaces including a veggie patch. Says Alfred Achoba, the CMHA’s executive director in Kamloops: “Shelters build capacity and connect individuals to relevant resources, offering support toward safe and healthier lifestyles, and they are a conduit to strengthen relationships within Kamloops to break barriers and stigma.”
It’s hard to argue with that. Neighbours, though, can be forgiven if they worry, given what’s happened with a number of other social housing projects in the city.
Increases in break-ins, loitering, general mess and sometimes violent incidents too often come with the territory. Moira House is located next to the Rivers Trail and a stone’s throw from a residential neighbourhood.
Many assurances are offered about precautions being taken to be sure Moira House doesn’t become another problem. The facility is surrounded by a tall fence, there’s plenty of lighting and round-the-clock staffing.
Nobody wants Moira House to fail. If it succeeds in co-existing with the neighbourhood, it will be proof that such facilities can have a positive rather than a negative influence in the community.
It shouldn’t take long to find out.
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.
Nobody wants this type of facility in their neighbourhood, not even councillor Singh much to his BS, but it is a necessity in todays age. Yet council has yet again failed us, rather than taking the lead as it ought to have and as a result we have outsiders dictating how we run our city. We need multiple sites like this but we ought to be choosing the proper sites based upon community input. Unfortunately we have
Mister Rogers hiding under his desk in the mayors office afraid to stand up to BC Housing. No Mr Rogers everything is not well in this neighbourhood and as we travel down the yellow brick road we have a mayor who is a combination of the Tinman, Scarecrow and Lion all wrapped up in one. Having a site like this 3 blocks away from 2 of the largest elementary schools in the city ought to be intuitively obvious as the wrong site. And as far as the eight blind mice following you sir, October can’t come fast enough.
Come the May long weekend, it will be interesting to see how the new facility co-exists with RVs getting rid of the raw sewage they have on board.
The RV sani-dump has been there for years at the end of Kingston Ave. . Kingston Ave. becomes a very popular spot the last day of every long weekend in the summer.
It was a simple enough question I asked Alfred by email.
Alfred made a statement that a community garden will be in place at Moira House and enough vegetables will be grown that they will be shared with other places. So, being the type to ask for an honest answer to a statement of claim, I sent an email to him:
“Having some knowledge of the particular location, I know there has been a lot of fill, garbage, road waste from spring cleanup and of late, quantities of gravel which have been compacted within the compound.
Almost anyone who has knowledge of agriculture would understand that quality top soil is needed to grow healthy plants and support the production of vegetables.
Your statement seems to be very difficult to take with any credence.
Why would you issue such a statement of claim to the public?”
As of 06:35 Thursday morning, April 14th, I have not received a reply to what I thought should have been a reasonable question to answer.