A Kamloops councillor wants council to reconsider a motion passed this week that received criticism from local housing providers.
Dale Bass has requested reconsideration of a motion passed during the March 2 special council meeting to address street issues.
Bass wants two words in the following section changed: “All currently operating and future transitional and supportive housing options must commit to providing the following defined wrap-around support services to their clientele: a) daily on-site nursing staff when required, b) 24-7 security services, and c) access to weekly mental health and/or addictions counselling services.”
Proposed in its place is an amended motion substituting “must commit” to “where appropriate.”
The original motion passed by a vote of 5-3, with councillors Bass, Dieter Dudy, Mike O’Reilly, Bill Sarai and Denis Walsh in favour. Mayor Ken Christian and councillors Kathy Sinclair and Arjun Singh were opposed. Coun. Sadie Hunter recusing herself as she is executive director of a social agency — A Way Home Kamloops.
Bass said she didn’t realize at the time she voted in favour of the motion that the language was all encompassing and put requirements on transitional and supporting housing that didn’t need it.
Bass cited housing by the John Howard Society, Elizabeth Fry Society, Lii Michif Otipemisiwak and Community Living among those that may not require wraparound services.
Bass said that realization occurred to her — then the issue “blew up.”
Following council’s decision to pass the motions, housing providers such as the ASK Wellness Society and the Canadian Mental Health Association came out publicly against the motion.
CMHA executive director Alfred Achoba told KTW he didn’t think council’s decision provided a solution to the housing or opioid crises that are fuelling street issues. Achoba also criticized council for not consulting with housing providers that would be impacted by the requirement for wraparound services.
Bass said council should have had more information before making its decision. With additional information, she thinks council needs to have the conversation again and refine the motion, if necessary.
Coun. Bill Sarai put forward the original motion as part of multiple motions made in an attempt to alleviate street issues, which have been a concern among residents.
Sarai said he is willing to again discuss the wording to better match the intent of the motion. Sarai said council is not trying to pick on non-profits. However, he added, the balance will be in maintaining “teeth,” with the city needing a tool to target problematic housing.
“It was not meant to be a blanket issue,” Sarai said. “It wasn’t meant for the women’s shelter, all supportive housing, and I apologize. Transitional and supportive housing covers a wide variety of B.C. supportive housing units. That wasn’t my intention. The intention was the negative social impacts that were happening on certain BC Housing-provided sites.”
Sarai pointed to hotels and motels on Columbia Street and in Valleyview among those the city should require security onsite, when neighbours are negatively impacted.
“When there’s nuisances or criminal activity, we should be able to stop that,” he said. “Or put a policy on place that says, ‘Look, there’s problems coming out of your building, here’s what we want you to do about it.’ It shouldn’t be on the taxpayers of Kamloops.”
One issue that may arise from the proposed wording change will be … who decides if the services are necessary. Bass expects that point to be discussed by council on Tuesday, with staff weighing in on the process.
The issue will be debated on Tuesday, March 9, during council’s regular meeting.