Communities need to be included.

What is going on with 1909 Prosser in Central Saanich?


On March 24th, 2021 residents of Central Saanich were made aware of a BC Housing supportive housing development at 1909 Prosser through a national newswire press release. Our local MLA, Adam Olsen, as well as the local head of police, were not consulted about the upcoming project.


Based on the four community meetings that BC Housing provided to the community at the end of April and early May (allowing less than 1% of the residents of Central Saanich to participate) we have learned that the building will be used for supportive housing services including 39 unit adult-only units to house people facing substance abuse, mental illness, and homelessness using a harm-reduction approach.


While Hon. D Eby believes that the community is being informed through community information sessions, residents who attended them have seen first-hand how BC Housing controls the narrative of these sessions through a moderator that mutes community voices not allowing residents to seek clarifications or ask further questions.


Although a building operator has yet to be decided, BC Housing has made it clear that the building will be used to house people with mental health issues and substance abuse issues without having any support or programs available in the facility or the community. The province is using paramountcy to push these projects through across BC without community consultation or impact assessments on the community needs or infrastructure which pushes the burden of care and the cost of care on communities across BC.


Central Saanich Residents are asking that BC Housing consider the needs of our community when they select an operator for the building and focus on below-market value rental units in the area to house those at risk in our communities. Placing people with high-acuity needs in a community that lacks the resources to support those needs is not safe or for the tenants or the community.


This website reflects a group of residents' concerns, hopes, insight and recommendations to the proposed project so that it can succeed.

Our Concerns

Lack of Infrastructure to Support High Acuity People

The harm reduction model supported by BC Housing allows those with high-acuity needs to actively use opioids or controlled substances alone in their units. There will be no on-site support services and residents are not restricted from sourcing their own drugs outside of what Island Health will provide them. Considering the significant issue BC is facing with tainted opioids as well as the increasing number of overdoses, not having the required support services in the facility to ensure the tenant's safety is a huge concern.


Central Saanich lacks the complex infrastructure needed to make a harm-reduction model successful for high acuity people.


"The biggest issue Penticton has with its homeless issue is the lack of supports around mental health and addiction treatment. The city has no publicly-funded abstinence-based treatment beds and no detox facilities."


The District of Central Saanich has the following available resources for its 17,000 residents:

  • 4 on-rotation police at any given time

  • 0 full-time paramedics available at night

  • 0 mental health outpatient facilities

  • 0 detox facilities

  • 1 regional hospital with an already taxed emergency room​ and a part-time mental-health nurse

Muting Community Voices

Over 17,000 people live in Central Saanich. 3 sessions were planned that capped at 75 people each. 20% of the people in attendance were non-residents (those from Island Health, BC Housing etc). There were waitlists for each session as the demand for information was high in the community. An additional 4th session was added for Monday, May 3rd. It was quickly filled. None of the sessions were recorded or made public.


Throughout these four community information sessions, resident voices were controlled and BC Housing's narrative was strong. Residents were muted and unable to follow up, questions in the chat room were reworded by the moderator to suit their narrative vs directly answer the questions that residents had.


Less than 1% of the Central Saanich community were able to participate and learn important information about this project that would directly impact them.


We know that the Hon, D. Eby understands our request considering his statement in the House of Commons in response to Adam Olsen's question about building trust in the community.


"And to suggest that we would just show up and say, “Here’s exactly going to happen. Sorry, we’re going to engage, but we’ve already made the decisions,” would be problematic."

More Support for Local At-Risk Residents

​Considering the significant number of at risk-families and people in our own community, we are asking BC Housing to prioritize housing local residents by creating subsidized-market rentals for families and independent living facilities for others at-risk.

BC Housing plans to build a 50 unit affordable housing complex for families on the same property next to a facility that could potentially house high-acuity people. Residents believe that a more family-focused approach to the 39 unit supportive housing building is a better long-term solution.​

Saftey of Tenants and the Community

During the BC Housing information meetings, residents learned that the facility will be staffed with 2 x FT staff members who will be focused on monitoring the security cameras around the building as well as those entering and exiting the property. There are no additional supportive services available on the property.


As we have seen from the recent deaths in other supportive housing facilities, having the right supportive services is critical.

"...there is not enough oversight at the facility, where tenants use substances while unsupervised in their rooms and no one checks on them, sometimes for days at a time." - Kirsten Patrick and Floyd Hyzims, Smithers BC


Centennial Park is a well-known and well-used park that includes hiking trails, a creek, baseball diamond, kids play area, basketball court and day-use facilities. The park is located less than 200m from the supportive housing complex. When residents asked how BC Housing will ensure that the risk of sharps (discarded used needles) in the park would be mitigated, BC Housing responded that there would be "clean-up crews".

We have heard BC Housing emphasize the idea of residents being "good neighbours" yet what we have seen in Penticton and around BC does nothing to show our community and other future communities that BC Housing is learning from the current issues and listening to community input and adjusting their approach to create a better system for everyone.

In fact, the project at Prosser will be pushed through by exercising the Province's Legislative ability to override local government authority on projects such as this one. Yet, when residents ask what the future plans are (i.e. will there be additional supportive services available?) we are told that we shouldn't make assumptions.

Community Recommendations

One

Create below market value rental housing & independent living units for at-risk people and families in our community.
Central Saanich has a high need for purpose-built rental units as there has only been one new development in this community in over 30 years.


Two

Select an operator that works with low-acuity people.
Central Saanich does not have the support systems or infrastructure in the community to support those with high-acuity needs including opioid addictions or mental health issues.


Three

Better communication from BC Housing & Additional Community Input Sessions
Less than 1% of Central Saanich residents were able to attend the community sessions and they were not made public.
D. Eby's using paramountcy to roll out supportive housing projects across BC has been problematic and does not factor in community resources, voices, or support systems. We are requesting that BC Housing seek Central Saanich Council input when selecting an operator for the building to ensure community resources are considered.



"What BC Housing has planned for 1909 Prosser has been done without community input and does not factor in the safety of the hundreds of families and the elderly that live in the area and frequent Centennial and Blossom Park. What was proposed on this site was low-income supportive rental housing for families which is not what is being built. We request that the current plan be aligned to what would work in this area, what will make the best use of the entire project including the 2-bedroom units, and considers the family-focused affordable housing complex being built right next to 1909 Prosser. "

~ Steve, Blossom Park Resident

source: BC Housing

TheThe proposed development includes a 39 unit adult-only facility that caters to homeless individuals with mental health and substance abuse issues and a 50 unit family focused building to follow. The project is being fast tracked to meet funding deadlines.

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