Parksville council defeats motion to have member join homelessness task force

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A Parksville councillor will not join the Oceanside Task Force on Homelessness any time soon.

Coun. Marilyn Wilson’s motion that a city councillor be appointed to the task force was defeated during council’s Jan. 17 regular meeting.

Wilson said she would like to see a Parksville member present to improve communication between the city and task force members.

Wilson added she only found out about an agreement between BC Housing and the VIP Motel to house people when she spoke with the motel’s manager during a meeting with the Parksville Tourism Association.

“I find it unacceptable that the City of Parksville has been kept in the dark about the decision to locate emergency shelters in Parksville that inevitably require staff coordination with emergency services, such as the fire deptartment, RCMP, ambulance, Emergency Management Oceanside (EMO) and city bylaw,” she said. “While other Oceanside communities have been able to forgo their responsibility to share in the provision of shelters in their communities.”

Mayor Ed Mayne said he does not believe city representation would have any effect on how homelessness is handled in the region.

“We belonged to this organization once before and we were treated like second-class citizens and in fact we were asked to leave the meetings for certain issues that were being discussed,” he said. “Our only say we have in this matter is in zoning and these zoning requests are handled by BC Housing and the owners of the land, not by this particular group.”

Parksville council had an appointed liaison on the task force from its inception in 2010 until July 2019 when it decided to no longer participate in meetings, according to Susanna Newton, task force co-chair.

Newton added that the task force invited a council liaison in June 2020 but the invitation was declined.

Mayne also expressed his frustration with a “total lack of communications with BC Housing.”

The mayor and Coun. Adam Fras both suggested the task force should request a city liaison, rather than council appoint a member.

“Unless we’re being asked to provide input, it’s not our position to go and start dictating on how things should be done. When I sat on there before it was made very clear that they’re not looking for our opinion on it, that they’re not looking for a different perspective,” said Fras, who previously sat on the task force.

Coun. Doug O’Brien made a friendly amendment that Wilson specifically be added as a task force member. 

“Maybe it will be ineffective, but we don’t know if we don’t try,” he said. “I think that Coun. Wilson could maybe bring a certain amount of clarity to the situation from council’s perspective, that maybe needs to be represented at that table.”

The amendment was carried, but the amended motion was defeated with Wilson, O’Brien and Coun. Teresa Patterson in favour. 

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