At the height of the housing crisis, it seems a bad idea to squander a potential supported-living complex.
But that’s what the Yukon government has done.
The Northern City Housing Coalition had pulled together a plan to build a 20-unit, supported-living apartment downtown.
The goal was to provide living space for people who frequent the Salvation Army shelter. The facility would have 24-hour staff to support or help the residents.
The coalition, comprised of volunteers, found some land and got it rezoned correctly.
It brought the Canadian Mortgage and Housing Corporation on board. The corporation provided $10,000 in seed money.
It lined up several banks, which backed the project.
The coalition recruited an architect, who volunteered time to the project.
It even had a builder.
All this came together in the late winter and early spring.
The coalition approached Health and Social Services. It needed the government’s support.
And the Yukon government has $18 million in housing money it’s sitting on to make its budget look fatter than it is.
The coalition needed just $900,000.
The department said it would have its answer by June.
The answer didn’t come.
Nor in July. Or August.
So, last week, rather than keep its architect, banks, builder and the CMHC on hold, wondering what was going on, the coalition pulled the plug on the project.
The government still has not indicated what its problem with the project was. Thursday, a senior departmental spokesperson said they didn’t know what the holdup was. They were going to look into it.
And that’s astounding.
The housing problem has been getting worse for years. It is an ongoing problem, one of the most visible facing the territorial government. All Premier Darrell Pasloski has to do is look at the tents dotting the lawn outside his window.
Volunteers assembled a workable project for 20 units and pitched it to Health - basically bundling it up with a bow - and they were ignored for months with no explanation.
Now, a week after they withdrew their proposal, senior Health officials still couldn’t explain the delay. In fact, they act as if they didn’t know much about the project at all.
At best, it shows a terrible lack of manners.
At its worst, it shows Health’s indifference to the housing problem. Or its cluelessness.
Bottom line, the government has sacrificed a much-needed assisted-living complex.
That seems a poor and befuddling decision.