As a Saanich resident who was present during the June 21 Saanich Council special meeting to hear from all parties regarding the Regina Park neighbourhood tent city, I was extremely disappointed in most of council’s failure to respond positively to the leadership of Mayor Atwell on this issue.
His second motion, to investigate the former Emily Carr library site as a possible location for supportive housing was defeated, with only Mayor Atwell and Coun. Karen Harper in favour. It was a motion to investigate, putting the site on the table as a possible option. Previously, no land was identified in response to a CRD request. Currently, this site is off the table as it is earmarked for additional Saanich staff office space.
The motion would have re-included it in the mix of possible sites.
Which is more important, providing more office space for staff, or starting to address the serious homeless issue in Saanich, which I believe is only going to grow?
The stated reason of most councillors opposing the motion was lack of prior notice. If that was indeed the reason, they could have referred it to the next council meeting. Instead, they defeated it. I have to ask, have they not been thinking sufficiently about this very pressing issue? This was a motion to investigate, not a final disposition of the issue. Further information would follow as part of the investigation.
We need open discussions on the way forward and long term plans.
With B.C. Housing looking for sites to develop, Saanich needs to “think outside the box” so that it can act quickly, rather than its usual glacial pace. Both Saanich homeowners and the growing unhoused population need a resolution, sooner not later.