REPORTING · 2nd October 2013
Margaret Warcup, the Housing Committee Chair followed Stacey Tyers at the Special Meeting of Council on September 30th.
“I’ve been involved with the housing committee prior to Council establishing a housing committee and as well once the committee was established, both as a volunteer and as a part of my role with advocating for people with disabilities in our community. All of our committee members are volunteers and working hard to try and address housing needs in our community,” said Warcup.
She stated the committees are open. They have had guests, other people have attended and they have invited people to speak including BC Housing, CMHC, Developers and many more. When Council has asked them for an opinion, they have an open dialogue and then the appointed committee members give a recommendation to Council. They do listen to what other people say though.
Warcup stated she acknowledged that some Councillors have questions while others have impatience when it comes to their reports or getting things done in a timely manner. She said they have received extra support from the Planning Department which has made a lot of difference because it is not easy to move on housing in any of the communities in the Province.
She said there are City Councillors who are attending the meetings and they are sharing information with the interagency committee so other members of the community know what is going on and they help with the housing issue.
Warcup told the Council they have their housing needs study done, using a $20,000 grant which they received from the grant writer, which the housing committee volunteered to get. Only $10,000 could be used on the study so it is very limited. The foundation for what is to come is done.
“We heard at that time, that Kitimat is behind in other communities because we didn’t have the needs study, we had no information, no documentation to take forward for some of the grants that you heard happened a few years ago when there was money free. We were not ready as a community so we are getting ourselves ready,” said Warcup.
She informed Council the needs study need to be updated. The data is difficult to obtain and everyone is hearing stories about people who are homeless, people who are evicted from apartments and such. Warcup told Council it is hard to document. She told them it is a struggle but they have a process to get it done.
Warcup explained the committee has been told by BC Housing that they need a not for profit society who are willing to take on this role, manage it and do it, they are not going to get the support services for affordable housing and housing for people with needs.
The Committee chose an open approach and there are many organizations in Kitimat who are interested in housing including Tamitik Status of Women and the Child Development Centre. The Non Profit societies have all taken it back to their boards and the Housing Committee will be discussing it as a group next week.
“If the opportunity came through the door tomorrow, we are ready to jump and do it. The challenge is, we have also met with Northern Health, Mental Health, Drug and Alcohol, etc. For some of the housing that Council is seeing as an acute need in our community, they need support services wrapped around people who are living in those houses. We need a Stacey, we need a law advocate, we need Anne who is helping with housing right now. It is tough to leverage that money right now to have the support services around people that we need in our community,” said Warcup.
They have applied for a grant to employ Ann Moyls as the Homelessness Coordinator / Housing Support Worker, but it is a tough grant ‘to administer’ and it is not enough money for the work that she is doing.
Warcup expressed the CDC, Tamitik Status of Women and Kitimat Community Services Society are working co-operatively and they want to work with Council and anyone else who wants to make housing happen.
She invited community members to come out to a meeting next week where they will talking about . She said there is not a lot of money coming down from the Federal Government so they are going have to be creative.
“If you look at the history of what is happening in housing, and I call it, I think it’s politically correct to say: ‘The Flavour of what the Government is willing to fund.’ You would get housing for seniors or housing for those with disabilities or housing that’s accessible, if you look at our statistics, and that’s what we try to portray in our housing study, we need a little bit of housing for each area, we have needs across the spectrum,” said Warcup.
She expressed it is difficult to find volunteers to sit on the committee so they do not want to be fragmented into many different groups. She also pointed out they all have jobs to do so time is a premium as well.
She thanked Tyers for coming, Council for listening and asked if there are any questions. “I want to thank you very much Marg for all the work you’ve done over the years, it’s been admirable,” said Mayor Joanne Monaghan.
Monaghan asked if there was a form of housing which is more needed then the others. Warcup replied telling her it is a dead split across the board for the housing which Kitimat needs. If the funding becomes available, they are ready to jump on it.
Monaghan stated she gets a lot of calls for affordable housing from people who have been evicted and Kitimat has some homeless people. She expressed Moyls has been wonderful in taking care of those people.
Councillor Corinne Scott wanted to know when the meetings were. Warcup stated they are meeting on the 10th next week. They will be meeting with BC Housing on the 18th with a team which Kitimat can access if they get the resources at the college.
Councillor Mario Feldhoff wished to apologize. “I would like to apologize for my contributions for the meeting a few weeks back. Allot of it got procedural and it got wacky. I very much appreciate the work of the group. I’m eager to find ways to assist the group and help whatever groups and people who want to work together to make something a reality,” said Feldhoff.
He expressed he was appreciative of the work done and wanted to help to make it happen.
Councillor Mary Murphy stated the interagency meetings were amazing and they have all the stakeholders meeting there and there is plenty of concern about housing. Council is anxious to get some goals established. Murphy stated Council was advised to allow basement homes and coach homes by Minister Coleman.
She said they are concerned and Council is hearing the same stories over and over again and they want to get something done more quickly. She wanted to know if there was anything which could be done to help.
Warcup went through some of the programs they are looking at. “Would we like to have had solutions earlier? Yes, we’re all anxious for them,” said Warcup. She added they talked to Coleman as well as the Planning Department at the District of Kitimat.
Monaghan told Warcup she sent an email to Coleman telling him the Council wants to move on with their life in housing and asked for additional information. She asked administration to look into whether they can have basement suites in Kitimat and if they would have to change any bylaws to do so.
Warcup reminded Monaghan that there was more to it than that, they have to have the services to meet the needs of people who need low income or specialized housing.
Councillor Phil Germuth wanted to know if there were land developers who wanted to be on the committee, would the committee be able to choose them or would Council have to assign them. Warcup said they have talked with people who have the resources to join them. “We’ve set the seed but we haven’t made them jump yet,” said Warcup.
There were no further questions so Warcup sat down.
Comment by pat blighton on 28th November 2013
the owners of apartments should stop kickin people out of ther homes just to up the rent we don't need money to help the home less we need to stop them kickin us out of our apartment so we wouldn't be homeless lets change the tenantace act so that landlords cant kick anyone out if ther isn't any places to rent in town come people help us at kuldo apts please help the disabitle an wefare people that been here for years