Hope protesters pound pavement in favour of supportive housing

Protesters marched in support of BC Housing’s plans to build supportive housing in Hope on Dec. 4. (Emelie Peacock/Hope Standard)Protesters marched in support of BC Housing’s plans to build supportive housing in Hope on Dec. 4. (Emelie Peacock/Hope Standard)
Protesters marched in support of BC Housing’s plans to build supportive housing in Hope on Dec. 4. Walking protesters followed by around a dozen vehicles made their way from district hall in Hope to the BC Housing-owned site at 650 Old Hope Princeton Way. (Emelie Peacock/Hope Standard)Protesters marched in support of BC Housing’s plans to build supportive housing in Hope on Dec. 4. Walking protesters followed by around a dozen vehicles made their way from district hall in Hope to the BC Housing-owned site at 650 Old Hope Princeton Way. (Emelie Peacock/Hope Standard)

Many of those who marched in a protest through downtown Hope Friday expressed a singular sentiment – supportive housing must be supported by the community and its politicians.

Many carried signs that read ‘support supportive housing’, ‘housing is a human right’, ‘housing first’ or simply ‘warm’, expressing their support for a form of housing that involves providing people a place to live with wrap around supports including meals, laundry and other basic needs as well as referrals to services in the community such as healthcare, counselling and life skills programs. A BC Housing proposal to allow the needed zoning changes was voted down by councillors in a 4-to-1 vote on Nov. 23.

Kicking off the protest outside district hall, organizer Scott Penner said the demand was nothing less than a 52-unit supportive housing building as BC Housing had originally planned to build. Hope’s council voted against rezoning the housing agency’s property at 650 Old Hope Princeton Way, effectively vetoing plans to build the supportive housing development.

Read more: Council says no to BC Housing’s plans for supportive housing in Hope

“People have a lot of fear about it, but I think there’s a lot of good that can come,” said Beth, who declined to give her last name, as she was busy tying a sign that read ‘housing is a right’ to her vehicle. “I just don’t think the fears of the bad things are worth people not having housing. I don’t think we have the right to let our fears stand in the way of that happening.”

Jenna Siemens carried her son Rowan and a sign that read ‘no one left behind’ in the march. “Our homeless population…they’re one of the most vulnerable populations in Hope, but they hold every bit as much value as the rest of us,” she said. “We just can’t leave anyone behind, we can’t all thrive until we’re all thriving.”

Siemens said she was very excited about the supportive housing plans and now “so crushed to hear that it’s not a possibility.” Housing is very difficult for anyone in Hope to secure, she added, and that basic needs of “safety…a roof over your head and warmth and knowing that no one is going to barge in on you at night” are required in order to move forward and to heal.

Alan Mogielka, who has lived outside including at camps along local riverways, said having a place where one can relax and unwind “goes a long ways.” “I’ve lived outside a lot, to have a place, you just can’t explain it. It’s home,” he said. Without a place to call home, Mogielka said being down and depressed is a constant feeling, “you’re not having a shower, you’re struggling to eat.”

Valinda Inyallie, who walked in the protest, said she wants housing for her and her children, and their father, and it would play a part in getting her children back with her. She is currently couch surfing with family.

Walking with Inyallie was Isaac John, who said he is staying at the shelter as he has no other place to live. He would like to have his own apartment or own room. He has also lived outdoors for a couple of years.

One protester carried a sign that listed off, on one side, those who may be living in a supportive housing development including injured loggers, veterans, artists, retired truck drivers, part-time employees that can’t afford rent, construction workers and cancer survivors.

Others who would benefit would be folks with brain injuries, seniors, widows and widowers, 60s scoop survivors, children aging out of the system and people fleeing situations such as violence, gang life or human trafficking and many more the sign carrier stated.

Some challenged Hope’s decisionmakers to be “homeless” for a day, others expressed their disappointment with the council decision to not rezone the property. “Shame on you Hope! Should have voted Yes!” read a white sheet of paper displayed by a person participating in the protest from their vehicle.

Some carried signs asking “What’s plan B?,” a question which has not yet been addressed by either level of government.

The vote by council Nov. 23 means the future operation of the House of Hope emergency shelter is also in question. The rezoning would have made the shelter permanent under a special shelter and supportive housing zone – it was previously operating under a temporary agreement by council, Mayor Peter Robb said. As a stopgap measure, councillors voted Nov. 23 to permit the shelter to operate until April 1, 2021.

Pennersaidthereisaneedtokeepthepressureonthisissue,andheisinvitingresidentsinfavourofsupportivehousingto“sendasign”tocouncilonDec.14.Aheadofacouncilmeetingthatnight,Pennerisinvitingpeopletocomeputupasignofsupportoutsidedistricthallfrom5to7p.m.

Do you have something to add to this story, or something else we should report on? Email:
emelie.peacock@hopestandard.com


Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Kent Harrison Search and Rescue brought a man to safety, and awaiting paramedics, after a 20-foot fall down an embankment on Jan. 23, 2020, on Harrison West Forest Service Road. (Kent Harrison Search and Rescue photo)
Rescue crew lifts man up 20-foot embankment near Harrison Lake

Kent Harrison Search and Rescue says this is the fifth call already this year

A mallard duck swims through Salish Pond in Chilliwack on Saturday, Jan. 23, 2021. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress)
WEATHER: Snow, rain in forecast for Fraser Valley

Fraser Valley has been treated to more than a week of mostly sunny weather, but it’s about to end

sd
VIDEO: Mission drag racer scores 1st career win, sets world record, makes history in 2020

Justin Bond, founder and owner of JBS Equipment, hits milestones in break-out year

Police tape is shown in Toronto Tuesday, May 2, 2017. (Graeme Roy/The Canadian Press)
CRIME STOPPERS: ‘Most wanted’ for the week of Jan. 24

Crime Stoppers’ weekly list based on information provided by police investigators

Adam Louis/Hope Standard
One Week at a Time: My doors will be open

Reporter Adam Louis introduces himself to Hope and the surrounding communities

Terrance Josephson of the Princeton Posse, at left, and Tyson Conroy of the Summerland Steam clash during a Junior B hockey game at the Summerland Arena in the early spring of 2020. (John Arendt - Summerland Review)
QUIZ: How much do you know about hockey?

Test your knowledge of Canada’s national winter sport

A woman injects herself with crack cocaine at a supervised consumption site Friday, Jan. 22, 2021 in Ottawa. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Drug users at greater risk of dying as services scale back in second wave of COVID-19

It pins the blame largely on a lack of supports, a corrupted drug supply

Wet’suwet’en supporters and Coastal GasLink opponents continue to protest outside the B.C. Legislature in Victoria, B.C., on Thursday, February 27, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
‘We’re still in it’: Wet’suwet’en push forward on rights recognition

The 670-km Coastal GasLink pipeline was approved by B.C. and 20 elected First Nations councils on its path

Jennifer Cochrane, a Public Health Nurse with Prairie Mountain Health in Virden, administers the COVID-19 vaccine to Robert Farquhar with Westman Regional Laboratory, during the first day of immunizations at the Brandon COVID-19 vaccination supersite in Brandon, Man., on Monday, January 18, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Tim Smith - POOL
Top doctor urges Canadians to keep up with COVID measures, even as vaccines roll out

More than 776,606 vaccines have been administered so far

From the left: Midway RCMP Csts. Jonathan Stermscheg and Chris Hansen, Public Servant Leanne Mclaren and Cpl. Phil Peters. Pictured in the front are Mclaren’s dog, Lincoln and Peters’ dog, Angel. Photo courtesy of BC RCMP
B.C. Mounties commended for bringing firewood to elderly woman

Cpl. Phil Peters said he and detachment members acted after the woman’s husband went to hospital

Dr. Jerome Leis and Dr. Lynfa Stroud are pictured at Sunnybrook Hospital in Toronto on Thursday, January 21, 2021.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Frank Gunn
‘It wasn’t called COVID at the time:’ One year since Canada’s first COVID-19 case

The 56-year-old man was admitted to Toronto’s Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre

An Uber driver’s vehicle is seen after the company launched service, in Vancouver, Friday, Jan. 24, 2020. Several taxi companies have lost a court bid to run Uber and Lyft off the road in British Columbia. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Taxi companies lose court bid to quash Uber, Lyft approvals in British Columbia

Uber said in a statement that the ruling of the justice is clear and speaks for itself

A 75-year-old aircraft has been languishing in a parking lot on the campus of the University of the Fraser Valley, but will soon be moved to the B.C. Aviation Museum. (Paul Henderson/ Chilliwack Progress)
Vintage military aircraft moving from Chilliwack to new home at B.C. Aviation Museum

The challenging move to Vancouver Island will be documented by Discovery Channel film crews

Most Read