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Laurel Lodge in Courtenay suggested as homeless shelter
Douglas Jones and Gary Chamberlain are cooking up a proposal for Courtenay city council.
They would like to see Laurel Lodge, formerly a seniors' facility, used as a homeless shelter.
The 7,500-square-foot building is a 20-bed complex with kitchen facilities, located at 280 Second St.
Jones, who said the owners want $600,000 for the building, proposes the shelter could be run by volunteers but was not clear as to who would buy the building.
''It's been empty for years," said Jones, 58, formerly a long-term care aide at St. Joseph's General Hospital and manager at Stevenson Place in Comox. He's been trying to find a job for more than two years.
"Why don't they open it up?" he asked of Laurel Lodge.
Jones and Chamberlain, an independent filmmaker, are producing a video that illustrates their proposal. They intend to present it to council.
"It's rampant," Jones said about homelessness. "Every day I see people sleeping on cardboard sheets in the alleys. The City is stealing everything they own when they've set up camp."
Mayor Larry Jangula said the City will not purchase property nor operate homeless shelters, which are the mandate of the province.
"It's not our responsibility," he said. "It's commendable that people are concerned. I think what they are doing sounds like a good thing, but they should be presenting this to the provincial government, not us.
"We are not going to build a shelter, period," he added. "You think taxes are high now and businesses are closing now. Try doubling them and see how things work."
In 2010, the regional district purchased property in the 800 block of Cliffe Avenue for the purpose of housing a 24/7 shelter. Jangula favours the idea of housing people but feels it is the wrong location due to potential negative impacts on neighboring businesses.