250 Terminal Ave. (NEWS BULLETIN file photo)

Nanaimo supportive housing isn’t subject to zoning bylaws, says Supreme Court

Terminal Avenue neighbour forced to pay defendants’ legal costs after unsuccessful court challenge

A supportive housing complex in Nanaimo set up by the province last fall didn’t need to be built according to city zoning bylaws, the Supreme Court of B.C. has ruled.

Janet Buechler, on behalf of neighbours of Newcastle Place on Terminal Avenue, brought to court B.C. Housing, the Provincial Rental Housing Corporation, Island Crisis Care Society and the City of Nanaimo this year, arguing that the supportive housing complex at 250 Terminal Ave. is subject to city zoning regulations.

The province set up supportive housing at Terminal Avenue and Labieux Road in the fall of 2018 to help accommodate people experiencing homelessness who had been living at Discontent City encampment at 1 Port Drive.

“The city and the provincial government agents understood that compliance with municipal zoning bylaws would not be possible,” wrote Supreme Court Justice Amy Francis in her decision.

RELATED: Terminal Ave supportive housing lawsuit goes before B.C. Supreme Court in Nanaimo

The court decision included a letter to the municipality from B.C. Housing’s director of regional development on Vancouver Island, Malcolm McNaughton, advising that B.C. Housing would be “exercising paramountcy” at 250 Terminal Ave. and 2020 Labieux Rd. Francis wrote that McNaughton’s testimony explained that B.C. Housing was advising of its intention to rely on a section of the Interpretation Act “to bypass the city’s zoning and permitting process.”

The court found that B.C. Housing “remains an active participant in the management, funding and operation of Newcastle Place” and that the facility is a Crown asset “to be used for a social purpose that will further provincial objectives.” Francis decided that even if Island Crisis Care Society was considered the user of the land, it would be protected under the Interpretation Act from compliance with municipal zoning bylaws.

The court ruled that the plaintiff, unsuccessful in her claim, must pay the legal costs of the defendants.

RELATED: Resident files civil claim against Newcastle Place groups

RELATED: Council concerned about Terminal Avenue project



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