A walking tour of Rutland with Kelowna Mayor Colin Basran was cancelled on Tuesday, but a meeting with one concerned resident is still on.
A Nickel Road resident requested the mayor take a walking tour of the neighbourhood to see the impacts, he believed, the nearby Heath House supportive housing project has had on the community.
“The mayor was aware of issues that have spilled into the neighbourhood and the city is working with BC Housing to address these issues and had agreed to walk around the neighbourhood today with several residents,” City of Kelowna communications consultant Marnie Douglas said.
“Unfortunately, what was supposed to be a walking tour of the Heath House neighbourhood with a few residents changed into a larger debate about the proposed supportive housing project on McCurdy Road,” Douglas said. “So, Mayor Basran rescheduled.”
The community of Rutland has stepped up in the hundreds to protest another facility that has broken ground on McCurdy Road. BC Housing’s “wet” facility has raised the volume in the community about neighbourhood crime, increased drug use and sales and other safety concerns.
The 49-unit supportive housing development is to be operated by the Kelowna branch of the Canadian Mental Health Association.
Neighbours are upset, as they were opposed to the first project slotted for the lot on 130 McCurdy Road — a dry facility run by religious organization Freedom’s Door.
The City of Kelowna councillors had rezoned the site deeming it appropriate for that project, but when Freedom’s Door failed to raise the appropriate funding, it was purchased by BC Housing and without any public consultation, the proposal was brought before councillors for approval based on the form and character.
A protest on Sunday at the construction site drew out a large crowd of more than 100 people chanting “keep Rutland safe!” and holding signs saying “Rutland isn’t Basran’s dumping ground.”
Kelowna-Lake Country MLA Norm Letnick sent an open letter to B.C. Housing Minister Selina Robinson to “pause” the project until issues surrounding other supportive housing have been solved, including the Heath House on Highway 97.
A petition was started by resident Daryl Kitsul to stop the McCurdy housing project and in only a few days, more than 2,900 people have signed it.
The mayor has rescheduled an appointment with the concerned resident to be held in person at City Hall at a later date.
Another protest is scheduled for this upcoming Sunday outside of the McCurdy Road project.