Christ Church Cathedral school opposes new Cool Aid housing project

A B.C. elementary school in Victoria is battling plans to open a new supportive housing project across the street.

Homeless advocate says there haven't been any safety issues with neighbours at other locations

Victoria's Cool Aid Society is planning to purchase Mount Edward Court and convert it into housing for about 100 people. (Google Maps)

A B.C. elementary school in Victoria is battling plans to open a new supportive housing project across the street. 

The Victoria Cool Aid Society is planning to convert Mount Edward Court, a building downtown, into supportive housing for about 100 people — some who may be dealing with addiction and mental health issues.

The building is across the street from Christ Church Cathedral School — an elementary and kindergarten school, and childcare centre that serves 190 children.

"It places one vulnerable population at the mercy of another vulnerable population, so to speak, and we just don't think that's a fair trade-off," said Stuart Hall, head of the school. 

Hall said the school has met with Cool Aid, but the two groups haven't been able to come to an agreement. 

In a written statement, school president Malcolm Read said Cool Aid wasn't able to provide assurances to "protect the physical and emotional well-being of our students."

Read went on to say the school was trying to balance the safety of its students while "actively living out the Christian principles of loving one's neighbour and taking care of the poor."

Hall said the school felt it had no choice but to express opposition to the project. 

Forging ahead

Cool Aid executive director Kathy Stinson said the school's position on the project is disappointing news, but she disagrees the facility will harm nearby children.

"Everybody wants to ensure the safety of children and make sure that their needs are being well met, and we are no different," she said.

On its website, Cool Aid says there haven't been any safety issues with neighbours at its other locations, some of which are near childcare centres.

Stinson said Cool Aid will try to work with the school to see if it can do more to address concerns. But she says it will continue with plans to open the new facility in 2017.

Homelessness has been a significant issue in Victoria. Up to 120 homeless people have been camping in front of the provincial courthouse since late October.

In September, Mayor Lisa Helps submitted a motion to borrow $50 million to help resolve the city's growing homelessness problem. 

The city has proposed several solutions, including building a permanent homeless camp, emergency shelters, and affordable housing.

With files from Megan Thomas


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