A flyer opposing the proposed homeless housing project on Elmbridge Way contains misinformation, according to the City of Richmond.
“I can’t believe some of us are prepared to go to this level of public fear-mongering,” said school trustee Sandra Nixon, who found a flyer on her car parked in the school district parking lot on Monday morning.
“I’m really discouraged when we have things put out anonymously in our city, implying that people who are less fortunate, who lack housing, are somehow less deserving to live in their community.
"The cartoon really stereotypes people who are homeless as addicts and being dangerous to our neighbourhood."
Found this on my car today. Wow, #RichmondBC - I can’t believe some of us are prepared to go to this level of public fear-mongering. Our entire community is better off when every resident has access to appropriate supports & secure housing. I hope Council sticks with their plan pic.twitter.com/R4NVJfQ91r— Sandra Nixon (@sanixon) March 12, 2018
The flyer reads, “We don’t want to be fooled. Let us understand Service Level 3!”
It condemned the government for “hiding the fact” that some of the proposed units will be reserved for “Service Level 3” residents, who the flyer claims are people with an “extensive criminal history, high risk to re-offend, history of property damage, security problems, addiction and untreated mental health issues and aggressive behaviour.”
(Service/Support levels refer to the level of support required for a tenant to maintain housing stability. The levels range from 1 to 3, 3 being the highest level of support needed.)
The flyer directs readers to the same website used for an earlier protest against the project, but when contacted by the News, the group organiser said he didn’t know about the flyers.
Ted Townsend, the city’s spokesperson, told the News that the city is aware of the flyers and supports the right of residents to express their opinions, however, “there are a number of issues with the flyer’s content.”
He confirmed 20 per cent of the units will house “Service Level 3” residents, but the flyer provides a “very narrow and incomplete depiction of the types of tenants that will qualify.”
“Not all clients requiring Level 3 services will have mental health challenges or substance use issues,” said Townsend.
He pointed out that, although the services are provided to people who may have an addiction, severe mental health issues or those who have criminal records, they are also offered to those with medical issues, such as depression, diabetes or cancer, and those prone to hoarding or relationship challenges.
He also noted that residents will be selected through a careful process, participated in by the RCMP, to ensure community safety.
The flyer also suggests that the government is using the term “temporary” to bypass the normal approval process for the residential use of land, which Townsend said is incorrect.
“The site is currently zoned 'Downtown Commercial,' which permits congregate housing, housing (apartment), and community care facilities (major and minor). That means no rezoning is required,” wrote Townsend in an email to the News.
“However, a development permit would be required...(the permits) go before the development permit panel, which is a public meeting.
"Final determination on the project will take place at a public council meeting, at which people can further provide their input.”
Townsend added consultation prior to the council meeting is planned with details to be announced.