Petition campaign against Kelowna supportive housing gaining steam - InfoNews

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Petition campaign against Kelowna supportive housing gaining steam

Opponents of a supportive housing project on McCurdy Road had a steady stream of drivers stopping to sign their petition at Rutland Middle School yesterday, July 4.
July 06, 2019 - 11:00 AM

KELOWNA - Thousands of Kelowna residents have signed a petition addressed to the province in an effort to stop a supportive housing project on McCurdy Road, but their first target is Kelowna city council.

Campaigners have set July 9 as the final date to sign the petition, which calls on the province to “cease this development … immediately, so that our children and seniors can be safe in their own residential neighbourhoods.”

“It (the July 9) is random in a way,” Audra Boudreau, the driving force behind the petition campaign told today, July 5.

“It, hopefully, allows us enough time to get enough signatures. What we needed was to be fast enough to be effective because they’re starting to break ground.”

There has been some confusion about the petition process.

The office of the legislative clerk in Victoria says that a minimum of one signature is needed in order to have a petition presented to the government and there is no time or age limit for collecting signatures. People just have to be B.C. residents.

Others have said they needed 10 per cent of Rutland residents to quality, then it changed to 10 per cent of Kelowna residents, or about 13,000.

Regardless, the petition cannot be presented until the provincial legislature sits in October. MLA Norm Letnick has agreed to present it at that time.

In the meantime, opponents have been talking to Kelowna city councillors and are asking them to reconsider the development permit. Council can vote to reconsider but it has to be within 30 days of the permit being approved, deputy city clerk Karen Needham said.

The permit was approved by council June 17 but was not issued until a few days later after some conditions were met. Chris Bocskei, one of the moderators on the Rutland for Safe Neighbourhoods website, told they have until July 27.

But city council doesn’t meet until July 15 and 16, then not again until July 29, so there is a narrow window for any reconsideration.

If that happens, council can only deal with the form and character of the building. The rezoning was done two years ago so cannot be reconsidered unless the owner asks to change the zoning.

There is also some hope that, given the magnitude of the opposition, B.C. Housing will consider changing the building from what opponents call a “wet” facility where residents are allowed to consume drugs and/or alcohol to some other kind of housing for low income seniors or families.

Bocskei and others have also filed complaints with the B.C. Ombudsman.

"We were blindsided by the city,” he said, noting most residents weren’t informed by letter until around June 14 when a press release was issued. The development permit went to council on June 17.

“There are a number of things that are suspect,” Bocskei said. “The fast turnaround – I’m not sure that anything has ever happened that fast. It suggest to me that this was a done deal way before we were notified.”

A count of signatures should be ready July 10, Boudreau said.

She picked up 599 signatures on petitions being held in Rutland businesses earlier today and expects to “sail past” their signature target during four drive-through signing sessions being held this weekend.

While people were signing a petition against the McCurdy Road project, an excavator was hard at work at the actual site a few blocks away.
While people were signing a petition against the McCurdy Road project, an excavator was hard at work at the actual site a few blocks away.



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