Rutlanders asked to 'start complaining' - InfoNews

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Rutlanders asked to 'start complaining'

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June 26, 2019 - 5:00 PM

KELOWNA - “Start complaining,” says Don Grant, who alongside a group of friends and neighbours is doing what he can to make sure a 49-suite supportive housing project at the corner of Rutland and McCurdy Roads is never built.

“Mayor Colin Basran, in response to some of the protests going on, said ‘the time for complaining is over’,” said Grant, referring to comments made during the June 17 council meeting.

“But it’s still time for people to voice our concerns. We can and should do so at any time we’re worried about issues in our community.”

The problem with the building, said Grant who has been asked to speak on behalf of the group who on Tuesday, June 25, put up the website to rally further support, is simple.

Within a 600 metre radius of where it will be are schools, the YMCA and access to a BMX track.

“There are a couple thousand of kids who walk in that area to and from the YMCA and to school — It’s the wrong area for that type of building,” he said.

“It’s right in the middle of a family-oriented community and we eventually could have kids approached to buy drugs, or drug paraphernalia left around… the risk is too high.”

Grant said if it goes through he won’t let his son ride his bike to the BMX  track alone, anymore. It will change the dynamic of a lot of families and he can’t imagine why the powers that be would have even thought this was a remotely reasonable solution to the social problems facing the city.

The only thing he can think of is they weren’t thinking about Rutland because Rutland isn’t at the table when decisions are made.

“It’s working-class people who live in Rutland,” he said, adding that it’s the most affordable option in a city that’s repeatedly highlighted for its outrageously priced housing market.

“It’s hard to find time to get active, go down City Hall and sit in the meetings, so we get the short end of the stick, not because we’re bad people. We’re working all day and then we go back home and do things with our kids.”

Political engagement is low in Rutland, which was demonstrated in the last municipal election. Of the 25 candidates for mayor and council, only Amarjit Singh Lalli had a Rutland address.

He didn’t win. No MLAs or MPs live in Rutland, either, and without a voice at the table, Grant said they will continue to lose.

Thus far, he said, he’s glad to see that Norm Letnick has put his support behind the community.

The MLA wrote an open letter against moving ahead with the project.

"We’re getting a lot of phone calls and walk-ins from people and they’re very, very upset – mostly upset at me for putting this housing on McCurdy," Letnick said in an interview with iNFOnews.

Letnick's opposition seemingly grew after touring the neighbourhood around Highway 97 and Leathhead Road, where business owners are upset about increases in crime and vandalism since the Hearthstone and Heath House supportive housing projects opened a few months ago.

To contact a reporter for this story, email Kathy Michaels or call 250-718-0428 or email the editor. You can also submit photos, videos or news tips to the newsroom and be entered to win a monthly prize draw.

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