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Opposition grows to second supportive housing complex in Kelowna’s Rutland neighbourhood

BC housing says there are more than 500 people waiting for supportive housing in Kelowna. To help tackle the problem, it's building new homes for people in need. But Rutland residents feel their neighbourhood is taking on more than their fair share of these projects. Jules Knox reports.

Another battle is brewing in Kelowna’s Rutland neighbourhood.

Residents recently mobilized against a supportive housing development being built on McCurdy Road. Now their attention is shifting to a similar project that’s in the works a few blocks away on McIntosh Road.

“We’re mostly seniors living [nearby], and all seniors across the street,” Rutland resident Jo Anne Dallas said. “There are three schools right within five minutes of walking and this neighbourhood has already got enough problems with sketchy characters.”

READ MORE: Petition against Kelowna wet supportive housing facility gathers 14,000 signatures in 15 days

BC Housing held an information session on the McIntosh project in January, but opposition to the development started gaining more traction in recent weeks.

“It’s growing almost exponentially,” Rutland resident Audra Boudreau said. “Awareness is what has changed. People simply weren’t aware.”

Many Rutland residents feel that their neighbourhood has taken on more than its fair share of supportive housing developments where drugs and alcohol are allowed, Boudreau said.

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“Rutland is saturated,” she said.

READ MORE: Rutland residents meet with Kelowna mayor about controversial housing project

Mayor Colin Basran wasn’t available for an interview but has previously said that he’s still hoping to get more supportive housing projects. Council’s instructions to BC Housing are to ensure they are spread around the community, he added.

WATCH: (June 25, 2019) An extended interview with Kelowna Mayor Colin Basran about the proposed supportive housing developments in Rutland. 
Extended interview: Mayor Basran answers questions about supportive housing in Rutland
Extended interview: Mayor Basran answers questions about supportive housing in Rutland

“I certainly appreciate and understand the concerns of Rutland residents, but this is not something that we are simply dumping on them. This is something we bear as a community together, and we’ll make sure we’ll spread these future projects out throughout the rest of our community,” Basran said.

Boudreau wants BC Housing to choose areas away from students and seniors.

“Industrial areas that don’t have schools and kids walking by, that don’t have high concentrations of seniors. They’re still on bus routes,” she said. “People can still access the services and whatever else they want.”

READ MORE: Controversy continues over proposed supportive housing complex in Kelowna

BC Housing wasn’t available for an interview but said in a statement that it will have experienced staff on site around the clock to ensure that any concerns are addressed in a timely manner.

Security cameras, fob access and proper lighting around the building will also be implemented.

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The latest homeless count identified 286 people as homeless in Kelowna, according to BC Housing.

There were 527 people waiting for supportive housing at the end of March.

READ MORE: Rutland residents gather to protest supportive housing project in neighbourhood

BC Housing said the McIntosh project will prepare residents to transition into market rental housing.

Each self-contained studio will have a private washroom and kitchenette.

Construction is expected to start after the city approves the permits for the project.

Residents opposed to the supportive housing development on McCurdy Road are expected to be at the afternoon council meeting on Monday to present a petition with more than 14,000 signatures.