Homeless action urged in Comox Valley before winter arrives

Sarah Sullivan of AIDS Vancouver Island is disappointed to see another winter looming with little action taken on homelessness.

Sarah Sullivan of AIDS Vancouver Island is disappointed to see another winter about to pass by with little action taken on the homelessness issue in the Comox Valley.

Working in partnership with the Wachiay Friendship Centre, AIDS Vancouver Island is urging the regional district to do something with its purchase at Cliffe Avenue, where it proposes to construct a homeless shelter, and to secure funding with BC Housing to operate the facility.

“We cannot wait another year for an emergency shelter and supportive housing,” Sullivan said in a Tuesday presentation to the Comox Valley Regional District (CVRD) committee of the whole.

She said the proposed shelter would be an “indispensable asset” desperately needed to assist the approximate 250 chronically homeless individuals in the Valley that were identified by the Mayor’s Task Force in 2008.

Sullivan noted the Courtenay Library acts as an informal drop-in centre for the homeless.

“We need comprehensive, concrete actions immediately,” the Wachiay Centre said in a statement.

The proposed shelter has been a subject of controversy since the district spent $470,000 on a trio of lots in the 800 block of Cliffe Avenue. Courtenay director Larry Jangula, who received numerous complaints from businesses near the proposed site, has suggested the area around Chuck’s Trucks in East Courtenay would be a more suitable location for a 24/7 emergency shelter.

While recognizing concerns of business owners, Sullivan said other communities have shown that shelters can succeed.

Comox director Paul Ives, noting the challenges of securing funds from BC Housing, said it would be helpful to know which service providers are onside with a shelter.

“What is clear is the need for community engagement, and to have one voice,” said Sullivan, who encourages business, government and the homeless to work together.

“An emergency shelter is only one piece of the plan,” she said, noting the need for stable, low-barrier housing, as well as ‘wet’ and ‘dry’ housing. “There is a huge need in this community for affordable housing, period.”

Ideally, Sullivan said the shelter would contain multiple services, in response to Jangula’s question about the type of operation being envisioned. She said the Valley might even need separate dry and wet shelters.

“The location is critical,” said Jangula, noting a “huge pushback on any location.” He also notes some shelters, like the one in Duncan, have “huge problems.”

Sullivan suggests the Comox Valley learn from the successful operations.

In an effort to “start the ball rolling,” Courtenay director Greg Phelps motioned to write to Minister Responsible for Housing Rich Coleman for supplemental income to help the Salvation Army operate the Pidcock shelter in Courtenay on a 24/7 basis.

reporter@comoxvalleyrecord.com

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Christmas will look a bit different in Cumberland this year, not only because of COVID restrictions but due to changes from BC Hydro about hanging decorations on the poles. Record file photo
Snowflakes a no-go for Cumberland’s power poles

Village, business association looking to promote shopping local for holidays

The Trenton Golden Hawks are changing their name and uniform for one game on Nov. 27 as they become the Trenton Snowbirds for one game to honour Capt. Jennifer Casey. Twitter photo
Hockey team honouring fallen Snowbird with Comox Valley connection

The Trenton Golden Hawks will become the Trenton Snowbirds for one game

A late-blooming Welsh poppy gave the Cox garden some unexpected colour last month. Photo by Leslie Cox
DUCHESS OF DIRT: La Nina signs not necessarily steeped in science

LESLIE COX Special to The Record I am beginning to think climate… Continue reading

The suspect is described as approximately 20-25 years old, between 5’3 to 5’4, with dark hair. He was wearing black Adidas pants, white shoes, and a puffy grey jacket. Photo supplied
Attempted robbery in Courtenay

Investigators from the Comox Valley RCMP Major Crime Unit are investigating

The Fifth Street Bridge requires structural improvements, new coating to repair and prevent corrosion, and deck repairs. File photo
Fifth Street Bridge repairs to proceed in Courtenay

The unofficial results are in for the Fifth Street Bridge Rehabilitation Alternative… Continue reading

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry updates B.C.’s COVID-19 situation at the B.C. legislature, Nov. 23, 2020. (B.C. government)
B.C. daily COVID-19 cases hits record 941 on Tuesday

Further restrictions on indoor exercise take effect

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good
Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

Krista Macinnis displays the homework assignment that her Grade 6 daughter received on Tuesday. (Submitted photo)
Abbotsford mom angry that students asked to list positive stories about residential schools

Daughter’s Grade 6 class asked to write down 5 positive stories or facts

B.C. projects targeting the restoration of sockeye salmon stocks in the Fraser and Columbia Watersheds will share in $10.9 million of federal funding to protect species at risk. (Kenny Regan photo)
13 projects protecting B.C. aquatic species at risk receive $11 million in federal funding

Salmon and marine mammals expected to benefit from ecosystem-based approach

Picture of two swans leaving the Cowichan estuary moments before one was shot out of the sky. (Submitted photo)
Petition to stop hunting in Cowichan estuary after swan shot

Hunters blame shooting on illegal poachers

Bob Higgins pulls the gate across on the elevator built inside his home. (Photo by Don Bodger)
Island man’s expertise earns international award with home-built elevator

Experience put to use in winning contest entry for furniture and home projects

Barrels pictured outside Oliver winery, Quinta Ferreira, in May. (Phil McLachlan - Black Press Media)
B.C. Master of Wine reflects on industry’s teetering economic state

Pandemic, for some wine makers, has been a blessing in disguise. For others, not so much.

A fentanyl test strip is used at Vancouver Coastal Health in Vancouver, Tuesday, January, 21, 2020. The test strips will be made available to drug users to ensure that their drugs are safe and free of Fentanyl. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Drug overdoses lead to 5 deaths each day in October; drug toxicity continues to increase

COVID-19 crisis continues to exacerbate the overdose crisis

Most Read