New Parksville Mayor Ed Mayne says the only way a supportive housing project at 222 Corfield St. South might be stopped is through a pending lawsuit — one which may see another defendant: BC Housing.
The agency filed an application on Nov. 2 to become a “respondent,” alongside the City of Parksville, in response to the petition by Ron Chiovetti, Adam Fras and others. BC Housing said confirmed Nov. 22 that it has applied to be a defendant in the case.
The petition, filed Aug. 3, calls for the the city’s zoning bylaw for the supportive housing site to be “quashed” based on alleged issues with the rezoning process.
The application from BC Housing and the Provincial Rental Housing Corporation reads that the agencies should be respondents due to their “direct involvement” in the project, as the entity funding and managing the project, and the registered lease holder on the 222 Corfield Lands.
“This project will be providing 52 new homes, as well as a cold weather shelter, for people who are already living in Parksville and are experiencing or at risk of homelessness, including seniors and people with disabilities,” reads an emailed response to the NEWS from BC Housing.
“These homes are much needed and will provide vital 24/7 supportive services, which includes access to mental health and addiction programs, as well as employment and life skills training to help tenants move forward with their lives. We are working to ensure that we can move forward with the project.”
The petition against the rezoning for the supportive housing location, made on behalf of petitioners Chiovetti, Fras, Doug O’Brien, Melanie Van Der Stock and Berwick Retirement Communities Ltd., alleges that the city failed to provide notice of the amending bylaw and a public hearing on the matter in several instances, that former Parksville Mayor Marc Lefebvre told Chiovetti the city would push through the bylaw regardless of public opinion, that the public hearing was conducted unfairly and that several of the petitioners were denied the opportunity to speak at the public hearing, among other allegations.
The city’s response denies these allegations, saying Chiovetti must have misinterpreted Lefebvre, that the city did its due diligence in informing the public, and that petitioners were only denied the opportunity to speak when their comments were outside the purview of the public hearing.
It also sought to explain several of Lefebvre and the city’s rules regarding conduct at the meeting, made in an effort (it said) to allow as many people to speak as possible, and to keep comments related to the zoning bylaw itself.
The supportive housing project was a major issue in the Oct. 20 municipal election, which saw Fras and O’Brien elected to Parksville council.
Mayne has previously said Lefebvre was “unable to conduct a proper public hearing (on Corfield rezoning) and completely destroyed the democratic process.”
He has, however, declared a conflict of interest with regards to the project as he owns property immediately adjacent to the 222 Corfield site.
“The only way to stop this (project) will be by the courts ruling in favour of the plaintiffs,” said Mayne in an email. “Hopefully, one way or another this issue gets put behind us soon so we can get on with other important matters.”
Mayne said he believes a date of Dec. 17 has been set for the court to hear the petition.
NOTE: This story has been corrected to indicate BC Housing has applied to be named as a defendant in the case.