File photo outside the Connect Warming Centre at 685 Cliffe Ave.

File photo outside the Connect Warming Centre at 685 Cliffe Ave.

Courtenay council grants extension to warming centre

The Connect Warming Centre will continue to operate at 685 Cliffe Ave. until June 30, as approved by Courtenay council Monday at committee of the whole. Council met via video conference.

The City had originally entered into an agreement with the Comox Valley Transition Society — a member agency of the Comox Valley Coalition to End Homelessness – to operate the centre from Jan. 13 to March 31.

“I think we found in the first few months that it’s worked very well,” said Coun. Doug Hillian, noting the centre has relieved pressure on downtown businesses and the library. “It’s also provided an invaluable service to the people who are using it, which has become even more significant given the circumstances we are under.”

Since the doors opened Jan. 16, the centre has welcomed 50-60 individuals per day. Along with offering respite from the cold, outreach workers at the centre help people access housing and living supports, and with tasks such as filling out forms and applications.

“Connect is attracting homeless populations who didn’t feel comfortable accessing other programs or spaces, including a reported sense of safety and comfort by female attendees, and those who previously only accessed the library as a place to go during the day,” coalition co-ordinator Andrea Cupelli states in a letter to council. “It has made a profoundly positive impact on many people’s lives.”

The coalition, which hopes to operate a year-round centre, has requested a one-year lease of the space with an option for renewal, and continued in-kind support from the City. It also hopes to extend hours of operation from 8 a.m.-6 p.m., seven days a week.