The Quesnel Shelter and Support Society is accusing Mayor Bob Simpson of threatening the health and safety of vulnerable residents by obstructing the Elliott Street Supportive Housing development.
President Heather Peters says the Mayor is also guilty of spreading misinformation like saying they are not being clear and confusing the issue…
“We’ve been as clear to him as we can be, we feel we’ve been very clear with City Council. We feel that we’ve bent over backwards to jump through the hoops that they’ve given us and yet there continue to be more hoops that they’ve put in front of us. We just got another e-mail from the City on Friday saying there were yet a few more things that we need to do. I get the impression that they don’t actually really want this to happen, unless it’s really shaped by them.
Peters also accused the Council and Mayor of micro managing saying that they are the experts in providing services to this population and the City is not listening…
“If we are not able to continue our harm reduction services, we’re the only place in town to get harm reduction supplies and support 24-7, if no one else funds that people will die. We are living the opioid crisis here in Quesnel too, it’s not just Vancouver.”
Peters says she also feels the Society is being used as a scapegoat insisting that opening up shelter beds and providing harm reduction and other services does not draw people here or make things worse.
She says the opposite is true.
A letter from the Society also states that “they will not be bullied by threats and defamatory behavior from city hall, and we caution the Mayor to exercise care in this regard.”
CITY AND SIMPSON RESPONSE
The City has responded in a news release to the allegations from the Shelter Society stating that they are confused about the development process.
Calling the allegations offensive, the letter says that one Council member does not control the agenda and that they act following recommendations from staff.
It also says that the City needs to know how the new facility will be operated prior to making any decisions.
Mayor Bob Simpson also raised that issue at last night’s City Council meeting.
Referring to a meeting at the hospital on Monday he says they asked the question will harm reduction kits be handed out at the new facility…
“Melany MacDonald, the Executive Director of the Quesnel Shelter Society and therefore Seasons House, said 24-7 service will be provided at the new Elliott Street Facility. Malachy Tohill of BC Housing said that is not happening, it’s not in your operating agreement, that’s not going to happen, to which the Shelter Society staff responded well we’ll see, if it’s not offered in the community we will be offering it over there.”
Simpson says that illustrates the lack of clarity as to what will and will not be offered at the facility and the lack of trust that the public has that there will not be service creep at that facility as we’ve seen at the current location.
He calls the letter from the Society a personal attack and Council has now asked BC Housing to formally respond to the news release from the Shelter Society.