Courtenay shelter operating round the clock until March 31

Pidcock House is offering emergency shelter services on a temporary, 24/7 basis thanks to $50,000 in funding from the B.C. government.

Pidcock House is offering emergency shelter services on a temporary, 24/7 basis thanks to $50,000 in provisional funding from the B.C. government.

The Salvation Army shelter at 632 Pidcock Ave. in Courtenay — which normally provides homeless individuals struggling with addictions, mental health and/or behavioral issues with accommodation from 6 p.m. to 8 a.m. — increased its hours of operation Monday. BC Housing funds 14 beds at the shelter while the Sally Ann supplies three.

“It’s extremely good news,” said pastor Darryl Burry, noting the 24/7 provision is a key component to addressing homelessness in the Comox Valley. “With the cold, wet weather upon us, our desire is to provide a warm, dry place for shelter guests to be during daytime hours.”

Minister Responsible for Housing Rich Coleman said the province is “answering the call” to the Salvation Army’s need for 24/7 shelter services.

“This is why I got into politics — to help make a difference in the Comox Valley,” local MLA Don McRae said. “This funding will help the Salvation Army continue to provide their valuable services round-the-clock to some of the most vulnerable members of our community.”

The supplementary funding runs out March 31. Until then, Pidcock House will provide three meals a day and greater access to support services. Guests, for instance, can access case management during the day. The shelter, however, is not operating drop-in services.

“You must be a guest of the shelter to be in the building during daytime hours,” Burry said. “It is our desire to provide assistance to those in need — to help them from the situation that they find themselves in, and try and assist them in setting goals that are achievable and measurable.

“While the shelter doors are open, we will be encouraging guests to be connecting with various local agencies, looking for permanent housing solutions as well as gaining meaningful employment, all with the assistance of our staff.”

This is the first time Pidcock has received provisional funds, previously hampered by a city bylaw that prohibited the shelter from operating on a 24/7 basis. In October, Courtenay council amended the bylaw.

The Comox Valley is the only region in B.C. without a 24/7 shelter.

There are 283 year‐round beds available at emergency shelters throughout the region. Annual funding is about $11.5 million.

Last year, more than 600 homeless people were provided with stable housing through the Homeless Outreach Program and the Aboriginal Homeless Outreach Program that operates in Greater Victoria, Cowichan, Nanaimo, Port Alberni, Duncan, Campbell River and Courtenay.

To accommodate the 24/7 operations at Pidcock House, the Salvation Army hopes hire new staff members on a temporary basis until March 31. Visit www.cvsalarmy.ca to apply.

reporter@comoxvalleyrecord.com