Community garden operators thank Courtenay council

The Dawn to Dawn Action on Homelessness Society expressed its gratitude to Courtenay council and City staff for granting a five-year land-use agreement to continue its community garden at Sixth and Harmston.

Dawn to Dawn clients grow plants and herbs in the garden. The produce provides a source of food for participants and for lunches prepared by the Sonshine Club and other volunteer groups. It also provides a small source of revenue to help offset operating costs.

The garden is also a spot for socializing between clients and the community at large.

"This social interaction is good for all those who participate, but also for the social health of our community," president Richard Clarke states in a letter.

The organization piloted the garden the past two years.

Mayor Larry Jangula credits Dawn to Dawn for an "incredible job" that benefits the entire community.

Coun. Doug Hillian noted other community gardens at Lake Trail Secondary and Courtenay Elementary.

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Council received a letter of appreciation from Deputy Premier/Minister Responsible for Housing Rich Coleman, who met with Mayor Larry Jangula and other delegates at the Union of B.C. Municipalities convention September in Vancouver.

Coleman encouraged council to continue working with BC Housing to discuss the proposed supportive housing project at Braidwood Road in East Courtenay.

Coleman also mentioned two programs the Province uses to support housing affordability. Shelter Aid for Elderly Renters (SAFER) provides monthly cash payments to subsidize rents for people 60 and older with low to moderate incomes. Monthly payments are also available to low-income working families and seniors renting in the private market through the Rental Assistance Program.

To qualify, families must have a gross household income of $35,000 or less, have at least one dependent child, and have been employed at some point over the last year. For more information, visit Find the programs under Quick Links at the top of the page.

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A letter from front-line workers favouring the supportive housing project will be forwarded to social planning consultant John Jessup, who is preparing a request for proposal for the Braidwood initiative.

In the letter, Sarah Sullivan of AIDS Vancouver Island — along with Dawn to Dawn's Grant Shilling and Roger Kishi of the Wachiay Friendship Centre — notes the absence of supportive housing in the Valley.

"The impact of supportive housing cannot be understated," Sullivan writes.

Supportive housing, she notes, is "widely believed to work well for those who face the most complex challenges" such as homelessness, substance abuse and mental illness. It can be coupled with job training, alcohol/drug abuse programs and other social services.

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Construction of a new regional hospital is the biggest community investment Coun. Starr Winchester has seen in her lifetime, she said last week.

Because of the hospital project site, the City sold a piece of land on Lerwick, which is a playing field attached to Queneesh Elementary, and invested the proceeds in an artificial turf field at Vanier Secondary.

"Now we'll see a true regional soccer field with artificial turf in 2014," Winchester said.


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