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Wet house decision angers Island Bay

Nov 6th, 2009 | By | Category: Front Page Layout, Latest News, News

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SOME Island Bay residents are upset Capital and Coast District Health Board has put off its decision about a wet house for alcoholics proposed in their suburb.

The Health board decided to withhold $180,000 promised to Te Whare oki oki Trust to run the facility until issues over the project are clarified.

“These matters relate directly to the Trust, and it would be inappropriate to canvass them publicly at this time,” says board communications manager, Michael Tull.

Island Bay residents opposed to the project feel the delay until the board’s next meeting in December is in no way a victory.

A spokesperson for the group says the public needs to keep the pressure up, as the Riddle St location is wrong and the project does not follow several international studies.

“The exact nature of this review in not clear,” they say. “In addition, the [city] council appears to be supporting the project.

“Relying on one person’s opinion (the report of Stephanie McIntyre) is not good enough.”

The group is using a British report on alcohol abuse to support their argument, while Te Whare oki oki and the Wellington City Council are using the research of the trust’s advisor Stephanie McIntyre.

The 2009 Sheffield Report says wet centres “should not be in high density residential neighbourhoods near schools, playgrounds, or other sensitive facilities”.

In a letter to the Dominion Post, resident Robyn Mclean says overseas studies recommend wet houses not be in residential areas, near schools or playgrounds.

“Wet house residents have major medical complications and tend to drink, urinate, vomit and beg in public and they will not be required to seek medical attention for their addiction,” she says.

Another resident, Iain Cossar, says Ribble St residents were not consulted about fears they had over having a wet house.

The residents had to do their own research, as Te Whare oki oki Trust would not provide them with employee Stephanie McIntyre’s research, and they question its validity, he says.

Ms McIntyre – from the Downtown Community Ministry, which helps Wellington’s homeless and which will help run the proposed wet house – says the wet house’s proposed residents are not dangerous and will pose no threat to the suburb’s children.

The proposed facility’s organiser, Ruth Harrison, says the research shows that most wet houses are in residential areas.

“This is a model that works,” she says. “It is not a social experiment, it is something that works.

“It’s for people who want to change their life, for people who want to change their alcohol problem.”

IonaCity councillor Iona Pannett (left) told the Dominion Post she agrees with Ms McIntyre’s research: “These are people who are very ill and have had very difficult lives. They are alcoholics, not paedophiles. They are not coming to Island Bay to party.”

Council communications manager Richard MacLean says the council is considering making Island Bay a liquor-free zone if the project goes ahead, in an attempt to prevent the risk of the residents drinking in public.

The Trust needs $250,000 from the Wellington City Council – which has so far agreed to fund the project – and a further $180,000 from the Capital and Coast District Health Board.

Housing New Zealand is providing the Ribble St property and says the house was selected because it was the only one large enough to house six to eight residents.

The wet house may still go ahead and the Island Bay residents association is holding a meeting on November 16 with the Wellington City Council, Housing New Zealand and the Capital and Coast District Health Board to discuss the project’s future.

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