Vernon Coun. Scott Anderson pulled back his notice of motion to temporarily suspend all supportive housing projects until an independent review of BC Housing-funded projects could be complete, but he said it will come back in some capacity at a later date.
Anderson’s notice of motion, which was to be discussed for the first time during today’s meeting of council (Feb. 22), was pulled during the agenda approval process as the meeting started at 1:30 p.m.
The motion requested council support a City of Penticton motion, calling for an independent audit of BC Housing-funded projects. It also requested that BC Housing not apply for the Penticton property until the audit is completed and made public and that an audit of the city’s entire BC Housing stock be done. If passed, Vernon would follow suit.
“To be clear,” he said in a statement issued mid-meeting. “I withdrew my motion to audit BC Housing because it was too broad in scope, and unfortunately included BC Housing initiatives that I’m in favour of.
“The focus should have been only on so-called ‘supportive housing’ and I, unfortunately, didn’t make that clear enough,” he said. “And calling for a temporary moratorium on future projects was too broad a goal and it’s far too soon to make it.”
Anderson’s rationale was that council has “little to no information” from BC Housing on need assessments, mental health support programs in place, or expectations for people staying in the residences.
“It is unclear what method BC Housing uses to determine need for services locally,” his motion says while noting there also needs to be an impact assessment on Vernon’s “significant and vulnerable” seniors population in areas near these projects.
In response, Turning Points Collaborative Society took to Facebook to voice its opposition to the motion. Vernon’s largest organization for supportive housing and outreach services, Turning Points responded to Coun. Anderson’s motion with a call to arms.
“We believe that this motion would do nothing more than cause disruption in our community’s strong relationship with BC Housing, create a distraction for city staff and elected officials, cost the province an enormous amount of money, and potentially put vulnerable lives at risk,” the society’s Feb. 19 post states.
Anderson’s motion was also met with criticism from area residents online.
But, Anderson said while he withdrew this motion because it’s too broad, “let this serve as notice that I intend to bring back a more focused motion in the future.”