Riverview housing plan sparks political backlash
Barry Artiste, Now Public Contributor
Turning a former psychiatric institution and the surrounding lands into thousands of condos seems like an idea whose time has come. It would certainly go a long way in easing the social housing crisis for the disabled, poor and mentally ill. Naysayers have opposing views, which unfortunately may not please all concerned, but when you have different groups with different ideas, there has to be a compromise.
It is tragic the 90 year old outdoor arboretum will be lost, but people come first when it comes to survival.
Many questions go unanswered.
Will mixing social housing with Free Market housing may leave some prospective home buyers uneasy, feeling the security and safety of their condo and lives? Will prospective home buyers may be concerned their property values will remain stagnant as the bias that goes with social housing will turn off realtors? Nobody wants this development to turn into a ghetto, then it will be a well meaning social project in failure.
Will a Strata Style Board be set up by all groups to ensure background
checks on troublemakers who prey on the victims and enjoy a criminal
lifestyle be turned away and or turfed out out immediately to ensure
Concerns of people living across from someone mentally ill and unsupervised can make for an uneasy relationship.
Will the mentally disabled who are slated to move there have in home caregivers to ensure they take their medication and lead productive lives or will they be left to their own devices?
Some Anti Poverty Activists feel that it is unfair to remove homeless people from their DTES environment and shuffle them off miles away from their DTES neighbourhood. One would think that is exactly what is intended as why would anyone want them back in that unhealthy druggie, crime ridden environment in the first place.
Self Serving Anti Poverty Activists need to put it in perspective, free or subsidised housing is housing regardless where it is. DTES want it, they got it, they need to understand they can't have it both ways, when they have contributed absolutely nothing to the social housing project but protest it at every turn. If Anti Poverty Activists want change, they need to pony up some cash, if not, then accept the fact people will be moving out of the DTES.
My Final Thought
Not everyone is going to be pleased, especially the NIMBY's, and DTES Anti Poverty Activists but then they rarely are. Thank god they do not speak for the majority, but selfishly only speak for themselves.
The homeless, mentally disabled and especially the working poor and those with families need affordable housing, and a safe place to raise their families. It is unrealistic to think the minimum wage shop clerks, baristas, clerks, servers etc.. who keep the economy running in downtown Vancouver can afford the basic necessities such as housing in the city core. Everyone deserves a decent place to live, even the self serving naysayers.
VICTORIA -- A major political storm began to blow Friday over the provincial government's proposal to turn the Riverview lands in Coquitlam into a massive housing development, mixing thousands of condos with social housing for the disabled, poor and mentally ill.
The government is seeking to solve a social housing shortage by trading the site of Riverview psychiatric hospital to private developers in return for a share of the profits to bolster public housing.
But the mayor of Coquitlam, anti-poverty activists and even naturalists who fear for Riverview's world-class groves of trees immediately lined up in opposition. "The real treasure on the Riverview lands is the collection of specimen trees that are found throughout the grounds," the naturalists said in a 2004 report. "It was the vision of [B.C.'s first provincial botanist] John Davidson over 90 years ago to have trees from all over the temperate world arrayed in one location for the education and enjoyment of the people of B.C.
"Today, the trees stand in their full glory and we see Davidson's creation as he must have envisioned it. Gingko trees (Ginkgo Biloba) from China, a fir (Abies pinsapo) from southern Spain, maples (Acer cappadocicum) from the Himalayas, and a sweet chestnut tree (Castanea sativa) from Turkey all thrive on the sunny slopes of the Riverview lands."
"This proposal would destroy it, it totally shocks us," said Golds. "This is a provincial treasure.
Coleman, who expected controversy over his plans, defended the government's idea Friday. He has argued all B.C. communities need to embrace social housing and get away from the "NIMBYism" -- the not-in-my-backyard syndrome -- he says has blocked attempts to build social housing in the past.
Jean Swanson, a long-time anti-poverty activist in Vancouver's Downtown Eastside, also criticized the idea of putting market housing on the Riverview site.
"I think he [Coleman] is using the homeless crisis to justify massive condo development that will make profits for developers but not do much for the next five or 10 years for the homeless," Swanson said.
"But in the meantime, the government can tell the Olympic press, 'Look what we're doing at Riverview.'"
Not everyone was opposed. Sullivan, who has been pushing for greater utilization of Riverview to provide housing for some of the approximately 1,500 mentally ill living on downtown Vancouver's streets, praised the Liberal government's free-market approach. He said it was similar to the Liberals' strategy to build 910 social housing units in Vancouver by integrating them into market housing.