Homeless Task Force may get $58K from RDN

Residents also wondering why secondary suites bylaw taking so long

After a passionate presentation from Malcolm Cox of the Oceanside Homelessness Task Force, RDN board members carried a motion to consider providing $58,000 to the task force Tuesday night.

Cox said the money would see the task force’s homeless coordinator position continue for at least one more year.

“There is a demonstrated need for effectively-coordinated homeless services in the Oceanside region,” Cox told the committee-of-the-whole meeting. “Our coordinator (Sarah Pool) has allowed us to make great strides in understanding our homeless population, identifying service providers and how we can work more effectively and collaboratively together.”

Cox said he feared losing the position would lead the organization “to become stagnate” and their “ability to move forward would be jeopardized.”

Parksville director Marc Lefebvre said while there is concern that the funding will not be sustainable (as it is a one-time grant), there is a “desperate” need to keep the co-ordinator position open while the organization seeks more stable funding.

Any motions passed at committee-of-the-hole meetings must still be approved at a regular board meeting. Also from Tuesday night:

• RDN general manager of strategic and community development Geoff Garbutt updated the board on results of the two public meetings hosted in regards to the secondary suite project. Garbutt said both meetings saw a low turnout, and one of the “key” questions raised was: why is the project taking so long? Garbutt called that a “powerful message” and said staff has been working diligently to reflect the intent of the housing policies as outlined by board members. Garbutt said staff is currently working on amending a bylaw to remove restrictions on home based businesses and the next step will be conducting a public hearing.

• Board members discussed the feasibility, cost and possible RDN involvement in the installation and upkeep of a rubberized track at Ballenas Secondary School. Qualicum Beach director Dave Willie and Lefebvre voiced concerns over the project questioning the need for it in the community.

• Board members carried a motion for staff to prepare a report about the challenges the Parksville Curling Club is facing with the reduction and removal of the Permissive Tax Exemption (by the City of Parksville) for the leased parklands.

•    Board members carried a motion to approve up to $15,000 of funding to the Friends of Morden Mine Society towards the engineering study of the Morden Colliery Tipple subject to funding provided by other partners.

•    Chairman Joe Stanhope condoned RDN staff for their efforts in bringing the first fleet of B.C. Transit compressed natural gas buses in the province to the region. Stanhope said the buses hit the road March 12.

•    A motion was carried to approve 12 District 69 youth and community recreation grant applications, ranging from $500 to $2,500. Recipients included KSS and Ballenas Secondary dry grad, Oceanside Kidfest Society and Errington Coop Preschool amongst others.