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LETTER: Summerland Legion Village has been an important housing facility

Resident has been unable to find a new affordable place to live
Parkdale Place Housing Society has a proposed development for the Legion Village property in Summerland. (Summerland Review file photo)

Dear Editor:

For the past two years I’ve called the Summerland Legion Village home.

My eviction takes place on June 30 and I’ll be the last resident to leave. I don’t know where I’m going yet because in 18 months of searching I’ve not found a single place I can afford.

I am thankful however, to have benefited from the Legion’s simple concept which originally was to provide affordable housing for veterans in need of healing and to not profit from that endeavor. It transitioned to include seniors and persons with disabilities. I think only those who lived here can truly appreciate this service.

For 60 plus years, it has been an affordable resource serving veterans, seniors and disabled people. Its purpose was to allow its residents a safe place to call home while they heal from whatever circumstances that led them there and to not profit from this service.

For some it was a step above homelessness and for others it was the perfect home.

Its design accommodated so many needs. The cinder blocks were soundproof and kept the units cool in the summer. The layout was mobility friendly. They allowed a pet and had a small private area at the back to enjoy the quiet surroundings.

I love living here and I’m sad such a resource is no longer deemed worthy enough to maintain.

Independent seniors and those with disabilities on assistance now have one affordable choice in Summerland and that’s to wait two to three years to get into Kiwanis Lodge and surrender their pet when that day comes.

Parkdale Lodge is no longer subsidized. Angus Place is subsidized for those needing assisted living and the new structure won’t be ready for years.

Parkdale Housing Society will be the monopoly for subsidized senior living in Summerland. Their vision statement is ”Recognizing the communities need for affordable, stable housing delivered at the highest standard.”

The vision replacing the Legion Village is a multi level apartment that requires investors, tax dollars and caused the eviction of all the Legion’s former residents during a housing crisis.

That vision doesn’t recognize that for some, giving up their pets to go live in a high rise with 80 other people is actually not a standard that is stable for all. It comes at a cost to our mental health.

We often have too many anxieties to live peacefully in that setting.

Its exactly the reason the Legion Village was the perfect fit for so many. It accepted our difficulties and recognized that affordable stable housing isn’t one size fits all.

Please reconsider support for this project. I don’t believe council has considered the full impact especially from the voices who need it most. The demolition will forever take away a valued resource for the most financially vulnerable in the housing crisis.

The project also has many neighbors concerned that this single lane community will be negatively impacted by the size and traffic this structure will produce.

There are communities building tiny homes in recognition of a growing need to provide for all its citizens. The Legion was that and more.

It would be a shame if Summerland misses this opportunity to maintain and expand on a resource that has worked for over 60 years.

Pamela Cedeno