Newcastle Place supportive housing on Terminal Avenue in Nanaimo. (Nanaimo News Bulletin file)

Supportive housing lawsuit goes before B.C. Supreme Court in Nanaimo

B.C. Housing, Island Crisis Care Society, City of Nanaimo, rental housing corporation named in claim

A Nanaimo woman, and the Terminal Avenue supportive housing complex-related organizations she is suing, are awaiting a ruling from a B.C. Supreme Court judge related to zoning.

Judge Amy Francis heard the civil matter between Janet Buechler and Island Crisis Care Society (housing operator), Provincial Rental Housing Corporation, B.C. Housing Management Commission and the City of Nanaimo, in B.C. Supreme Court in Nanaimo earlier this week. Buechler, who resides near Newcastle Place facility on 250 Terminal Ave., claims B.C. Housing is violating city zoning bylaws.

The site provides temporary housing for residents of the former Discontent City and according to Martin Buhler, Buechler’s legal representation, if citizens have complaints and go to the city, it is the province and B.C. Housing’s viewpoint that they (and the society) can override city bylaws via a section in the B.C. Interpretation Act, which in effect, doesn’t bind government in relation to development of land issues.

That makes going to city hall “ineffectual, without confirmation the city has jurisdiction,” Buhler told the News Bulletin. A statement from the court is sought, stating the land is subject to city zoning, which would permit residents to take concerns to the city, knowing it can address them, he said.

RELATED: Resident files civil claim against Newcastle Place groups

RELATED: Council concerned about Terminal Avenue project

RELATED: Discontent City to remain until end of November 2018

Signs bear the Island Crisis Care Society’s name and it also provides staff, services and receives the rent. There is no B.C. Housing, corporation or provincial presence at all, said Buhler, adding that an agreement document provides “comprehensive indemnity and release provisions” favouring the B.C. government.

Ron Josephson, lawyer for B.C. Housing and the corporation, said that when a B.C. Supreme Court judge granted an application for extension for Discontent City in October 2018, there was a “clear understanding in everyone’s mind, including the courts, that there was to be alternative housing provided by the province.” B.C. Housing, in fulfilling its mandate, was going to assist the city to deal with displaced residents, which shows B.C. Housing was to be user of that land, said Josephson.

He referred to the society as a contractor that complies with certain conditions and obligations to B.C. Housing. Money for staff comes directly from B.C. Housing, he said.

The society is the “actors in the show,” the corporation owns the land, on which the “theatre company produces the show,” and B.C. Housing is the “production company,” Joseph told Francis, the latter two of which use the land. The matter would be better served as a petition and his clients are entitled to costs, he said.

Robert Macquisten, the city’s legal representation, said the municipality shouldn’t have been named in the suit and the matter is not a zoning enforcement case.

Ted Baubier was the society’s legal representation.

Francis reserved her decision and will rule at a later, not yet determined, date.


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