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Posted: January 9, 2021

Opposition to rezoning discriminatory and stigmatizing

Letter to the Editor

Re:  December 7 & January 4 Rezoning Bylaw Discussions

Dear Mayor & Council:

It was interesting to watch the December 7 and January 4 City of Cranbrook council meetings.  Specifically, the request for a rezoning bylaw for the property at 209 – 16 Ave. N. as a location for a permanent homeless shelter.

Homelessness has been an issue here for years. COVID-19 is making matters worse as people can’t afford their mortgages or rents. The disparity between the ‘haves’ and the ‘have nots’ is widening.  Plus, The Salvation Army has withdrawn its homeless shelter proposal.

Statements made during the December 7 meeting, by Mayor Pratt, Councillors Popoff and Graham such as: “we have not talked about a location,” “have city senior staff be a stakeholder with BC Housing as we go forward . . . and this hasn’t been the process that has been followed;” “BC Housing, who has not had discussion with us . . . let’s engage BC Housing” and “not critical or time sensitive.” Would you say “this is not critical” to someone sleeping in an alley?

Those statements and subsequent actions are questionable and appear to justify delaying a zoning bylaw amendment. Correspondence between BC Housing, Community Connections, Terry Segarty and city staff indicate that this location has been discussed since August 20, 2020. That’s nearly six months of talks with the city involved.

The Mayor’s last words on the motion to delay the Public Hearing when he raised his hand to object was to say, “I am opposed to the second reading, I don’t care when it is.”

Opposition to this rezoning bylaw request can only be described as discriminatory and stigmatizing of low-income households and those experiencing homelessness. We have the social services and supports for these populations at the very location applying for rezoning.

It’s time to dispel myths about people based on their housing status and to view housing as a human right as the rest of Canada has.

For the homeless…

Sharon Cross,

Cranbrook


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