Coun. Bob Masse says the city’s new downtown homeless shelter is creating problems for his business and forcing him to miss two of council’s Monday morning workshops every month.
That, in part, resulted in Monday morning’s scheduled three-hour meeting being adjourned after 45 minutes because only three of seven councillors showed up, too few for an official quorum.
Mayor Nicole Read was at a homeless conference in Montreal, while Coun. Gordy Robson was on vacation and Coun. Kiersten Duncan showed up late – about 15 minutes after the meeting was adjourned.
Masse was in town, but said he needs to be at his business on Monday mornings to deal with problems created on weekends by residents of the homeless shelter, located on Lougheed Highway, a block south of his chiropractic office.
Masse operates Focus Chiropractic, located at 22234 Selkirk Avenue, across a parking lot and lane from the new city-operated homeless shelter.
The clinic employs seven health care practitioners and four staff.
Masse said on Monday, Oct. 26, they arrived at the clinic to learn that people had been sleeping in the doorway and left litter and discarded needles.
On another recent occasion, a homeless man was found laying next to the building unconscious.
After determining that he was breathing, they contacted the shelter operator, Rain City Housing, to deal with what turned out to be someone sleeping out of the rain.
Masse has no complaints with Rain City, and said the operator has been responsive to complaints.
“They dealt with it immediately, in both circumstances,” he said. “I think they’re doing as good a job as anyone can.”
But as a business operator, Masse feels an obligation to take on any problems associated with the shelter on Monday mornings.
“I think it’s appropriate that I be there.”
Because of the shelter’s close proximity to his clinic, Masse had to excuse himself from council’s deliberations about the location of the temporary shelter, which opened at Lougheed Highway and 222nd Street on Oct. 1.
His involvement could have been construed as a conflict of interest.
Masse would like to have been part of a general conversation about whether a shelter should be in the downtown core – he would have preferred to see it in city-owned buildings in the Albion flats, for the sake of business owners.
He will deal with the situation for the next six months, after which the city shelter is expected to close, but that will likely include his absence from all Monday morning workshops.
“There’s things that need to be dealt with, but we’ve dealt with things for 20 years,” said Masse.
“In the long run, once we get people moved on and this place is closed, the downtown will definitely be ahead of the game.”
There’s nothing in the rules to stop Masse from routinely missing the Monday morning workshops, said Deputy Mayor Tyler Shymkiw, who was forced to adjourn the meeting he was chairing on Monday.
“That’s a personal decision by Bob, and that’s between Bob and the electorate,” said Shymkiw, adding that Masse “does a lot of work for the city.”