Kelowna Mayor no show for walking tour with concerned citizens in Rutland - InfoNews

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Kelowna Mayor no show for walking tour with concerned citizens in Rutland

Some of the protesters who gathered in Kelowna's Rutland neighbourhood to take a walking tour with Mayor Colin Basran, Tuesday, June 25, 2019, hold up signs with messages for the Mayor. Basran didn't take part in the tour for unspecified reasons.
June 25, 2019 - 5:29 PM

KELOWNA - Some residents of Kelowna’s Rutland neighbourhood frustrated with the theft, drug use and vandalism that seems to saturate areas surrounding supportive housing facilities gathered today for a scheduled walking tour with Mayor Colin Basran.

However, for unspecified reasons, Mayor Basran cancelled his appearance today, June 25, and did not send a delegate in his place. However, the police escort he had organized previously was available for the group's tour. 

One of those residents is Karen Haddrell, who lives near Heathhouse, a wet facility on Highway 97 in Rutland. She shares the concern of many other locals: that the new supportive housing project planned for the corner of McCurdy and Rutland is too close to schools.

“It is also going to be a wet facility, just like Heathouse,” she explains. Wet facilities are housing where residents are not cut off from using alcohol or other substances. Conversely, dry facilities prohibit all substance use.

Two protesters hold signs during a walking tour, Tuesday, June 25, 2019, of Kelowna's Rutland neighbourhood.
Two protesters hold signs during a walking tour, Tuesday, June 25, 2019, of Kelowna's Rutland neighbourhood.

The proposed wet facility is near Rutland Elementary, Rutland Middle School, Rutland Senior Secondary, the YMCA, the Gymnastics Centre, several licensed daycares and the Rutland Seniors Centre.

“We are aggressively supporting the McCurdy neighbourhood in stopping that project from being built that close to schools” says Haddrell.

Laurel McKay also lives near Heathouse, and has seen an increase of crime in her neighbourhood.

“Coming out of my driveway I look to my left and there’s somebody vomiting, and I look to my right… there’s people shooting up,” she says. "It is that real for us here.”

McKay is certain that because of the lack of safety in her neighbourhood, her property value has taken a hit.

Kelowna-Lake Country MLA Norm Letnick attended a walking tour in Kelowna's Rutland neighbourhood, Tuesday, June 25, 2019.
Kelowna-Lake Country MLA Norm Letnick attended a walking tour in Kelowna's Rutland neighbourhood, Tuesday, June 25, 2019.

"If I was to try and put my home up for sale right now, and you drove by as a prospective homeowner and saw this, you would tell your realtor to drive on by” she says. 

Many in the crowd walking along Lester Road and around Sylvania Crescent had many first-hand accounts of their own. Overall, the locals acknowledged that the police are doing their best, and the problem is rooted in the drug use allowed in wet facilities. Many are calling for better management and safer locations for supportive housing.

Kelowna-Lake Country MLA Norm Letnick accompanied the walking tour, and urged residents to invite mayor and council to be a part of the solution, rather than targeting them with hate and blame. Although some in attendance seemed to agree, the signs carried by others indicated otherwise.


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