Saanich delays creation of homeless task force

Councillor sees gaps in current housing initiatives

What seemed like a straightforward motion to create a Saanich task force for homelessness and affordable housing was met with resistance from council on Monday night.

Coun. Colin Plant said he respects the vote by council, which was 8-1 to postpone any creation of a task force. Plant brought the concept forward from the Healthy Saanich advisory committee he chairs, which fully supported the Gorge Tillicum Community Association report.

“My worry is that by postponing the motion, there’s nothing that says anything will happen now, and that is disappointing for me,” Plant said. “Council is interested but now that might not happen because nothing was put in place. We should have made it more formal by having staff give us a report on where there are gaps in Saanich.”

The creation of the task force came with a related item on Monday’s agenda, to add a social planner to Saanich’s staff. The social planner would be a paid Saanich position to work with the issue of homelessness and housing affordability starting in the 2017 fiscal year and budget. That motion was also postponed.

One issue other councillors had with the creation of a task force was that there are already multiple initiatives underway in the region. Couns. Vicki Sanders and Fred Haynes said a task force for homelessness and housing affordability was reinventing the wheel, while Coun. Vic Derman also questioned the scope of the task force compared to what’s already underway across Greater Victoria. But Plant argued the task force is exactly what is needed to measure what effect the region’s many affordable housing and homelessness initiatives are having on Saanich.

“I appreciate my colleagues wanted more information to see if we needed a task force, but I think that’s why we needed a task force, to see if we need to address these issues,” Plant said. “I respect the vote of council, I just didn’t agree with this vote.”

In the opinion of GTCA president Rob Wickson, who presented to council on behalf of the motion with GTCA member Dr. Trevor Hancock, the report came to council earlier than he anticipated. Wickson says he’s confident progress can still be made.

The report lists ongoing areas where homeless people take shelter in Saanich and a desire to include homeless people in the feedback and strategy planning. There are homeless people who choose to stay away from the social services available downtown, Plant said, and providing social services in Saanich would be welcome.

“Even if the task force was created just to talk to other organizations doing this work, council would know more,” Plant said. “I’m not saying this group would make rocket-science discoveries, just measure what is happening and how it affects Saanich, what’s working, what’s coming and what’s missing.”

Councillors picked the report apart saying it’s just too broad. Trying to include the mental health and addiction issues often attached to homelessness is its own area, while housing affordability is another, said Sanders.

 

 

Just Posted

Victoria resident catches, cleans pigeon feet to help fight stringfoot

Hair, string tangled around birds’ feet can cut off circulation to toes and whole feet

Cyclists rejoice as the Christmas Lights Parade returns

Family-friendly 10km ride visits big Christmas displays, Dec. 21

Victoria residents advocate for funding for neighbourhoods without community centres

North Park Neighbourhood Association hopes to see $75,000 to bolster nearby staff

VIDEO: These are the top toys this Christmas, B.C. toy experts say

Consider the play value of a game, staff at Toy Traders say

Prince George RCMP use bait packages to catch porch pirates over the holidays

First-in-Canada program with Amazon looks to combat parcel theft

Nanaimo mechanical engineer creates thief tracking program

Nanaimo Thief Tracking lets users plot and share information about thefts online

Mayor wants B.C. to institutionalize severely mental ill people who are homeless

Those suffering from mental health conditions, such as schizophrenia, need specialized care, mayor says

Five things of note from Trudeau’s mandate letters to his ministers

Some marching orders come from the Liberal Party’s campaign, while others are new additions

Scheer’s resignation tips party into internal war over school tuition payments

The Conservatives have a Toronto convention already scheduled for April

POLL: Do you have a real or artificial Christmas tree?

The lights are up, holiday shoppers are bustling through the streets and… Continue reading

Navigating ‘fever phobia’: B.C. doctor gives tips on when a sick kid should get to the ER

Any temperature above 38 C is considered a fever, but not all cases warrant a trip to the hospital

Transportation Safety Board finishes work at B.C. plane crash site, investigation continues

Transport Canada provides information bulletin, family of victim releases statement

Most Read