Christopher Bocskei is a long-time Rutland resident against the 49-unit McCurdy Road supportive housing development. (Laryn Gilmour - Capital News)

Ex-homeless Rutland man says supportive housing too close to schools

Despite personal experiences with drugs, homelessness, one Kelowna resident says no to McCurdy site

Christopher Bocskei is a long-time resident of the Rutland community who is dead set against a “wet” facility being built on the corner of McCurdy Road, despite his own experiences with homelessness.

Bocskei said he didn’t have the best relationship with his father when he was young and was “invited to leave home.”

Bocskei found himself living on the streets and turning to the drug culture.

READ MORE: Petition started in protest of Kelowna’s McCurdy Road supportive housing

READ MORE: Rutland community rallies against McCurdy house

“I spent about a year and a half on the street and ended up in the hospital for a month and a half after overdosing on some drugs that we made,” he said.

He’s been living in Rutland for around two decades now and is raising his children in what he calls a family-oriented community.

He spends his spare time coaching, working in the community garden and giving back to his neighbourhood.

“We absolutely need these facilities,” he said about BC Housing’s “wet” facility slotted for McCurdy Road.

“These facilities can absolutely work if they can find a model that works.

“The first error I see in this model is the proximity to the schools, which is a no brainer.”

Bocskei said in a previous interview a better location for a project that allows drug and alcohol consumption on site is across the street from the RCMP detachment downtown.

When the project was first brought before Kelowna city council, it was pitched as a dry house serving graduates of a religious organization’s program.

READ MORE: McCurdy project in Rutland gets go-ahead from Kelowna councillors

“Now there’s another story,” Bocskei said.

The organization, Freedom’s Door, failed to raise the appropriate funds and the site, which had been rezoned by council, was purchased by BC Housing.

As the land was already rezoned, when the new application was brought back to council on June 17, councillors could only vote on the form and character of the development.

“We were not informed that this was going to be a wet facility where addicts would be supplied drugs potentially,” Bocskei said.

“They’re going to need to feed their habits. Petty crime is going to increase and our kids are all going to be subjected to other things.”

The 49-units purchased by BC Housing will have its day-to-day operations overseen by the Kelowna branch of the Canadian Mental Health Association.

At Wednesday night’s information session at the Rutland Centennial Hall, the regional director for the interior region of BC Housing, Ann Howard, said the units would be rented out to a variety of people in need including those experiencing homelessness, those with physical and mental limitations and those who have addictions.

“There will be a variety of people,” she said. “It’s not a homogeneous mix.”

Gaelene Askeland, executive director of the Central Okanagan Journey Home Society, said if people have homes, issues such as crime and theft are likely to decline.

“The struggles we have with people outside — the petty crime, the theft and that kind of stuff — that comes along with people still being outside,” she said.

“If we had every single one of those people housed, chances are, we would have a lot less problems.”


@caitleerach
Caitlin.clow@kelownacapnews.com

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