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

A B.C. Centre for Disease Control map shows new COVID-19 cases by local health area for the week of April 11-17. (BCCDC image)
BCCDC says fresh COVID-19 cases down in most Island Health areas

Nanaimo sees its fewest new COVID-19 cases since mid January

Col. Bryn Elliott is the new wing commander of 19 Wing Comox. Photo submitted
New wing commander at 19 Wing Comox

The ceremony was presided over virtually by the commander of 1 Canadian Air Division.

Comox council voted to change the speed limit from 50 km/hr to 30 km/hr along a stretch of Lazo Road. Photo submitted
Speed limit change coming to Lazo Road in Comox

Racing, pedestrian safety issues presented to council

The new childcare centre on Denman Island opened in April. Photo, Comox Valley Schools
New Denman Island childcare facility opens

The facility offers 20 new licensed care spaces

Pharmacist Barbara Violo arranges empty vials of the Oxford-AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine that she has provided to customers at the Junction Chemist, an independent pharmacy in Toronto, Monday, April 19, 2021. Younger Canadians in several provinces are now able to get the AstraZeneca vaccine. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
AstraZeneca vaccine appointments fill up fast on Vancouver Island

More pharmacies expected to be added as supply increases

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and United States President Joe Biden smile as they say farewell following a virtual joint statement in Ottawa, Tuesday, February 23, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Trudeau pledges to cut emissions by 40% to 45% by 2030, short of U.S. goal

Trudeau announced target during a virtual climate summit convened by U.S. President Joe Biden

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

The following is a list of restaurants offering take-out and patio dining. ADOBE STOCK IMAGE
List of Comox Valley restaurants offering take-out, patio dining options

Restaurants in the Comox Valley continue to adapt to government-imposed restrictions in… Continue reading

MLA Shirley Bond, right, answers questions during a press conference at Legislature in Victoria, B.C., on February 19, 2019. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
Former B.C. gaming minister says she wasn’t told directly about dirty cash flowing to casinos

Shirley Bond said Thursday civil forfeiture, gang violence and gambling addiction were also major concerns in 2011

RCMP Constable Etsell speaks to tourists leaving the area at a police roadblock on Westside Road south of Fintry, B.C., Thursday, July 23, 2009. THE CANADIAN PRESS/ Yvonne Berg
B.C. police say they take ‘exception’ to conducting roadblocks limiting travel

Asking the police to enforce roadblocks exposes officers to further risk and possible COVID-19 infections, says federation president Brian Sauve

As part of the province’s strategy to combat the opioid overdose crisis, take-home naloxone kits have been distributed throughout the province. (Courtesy of Gaëlle Nicolussi)
Vancouver Island could be at its worst point of overdose crises yet: medical health officer

Island Health issued overdose advisories for Victoria, various communities in the last two weeks

Tofino residents expressed frustration over a recent post by Long Beach Lodge owner Tim Hackett that falsely claimed all residents have been vaccinated. (Westerly file photo)
Resort owner apologizes for suggesting Tofino is safe to travel to

Long Beach Lodge owner Tim Hackett apologizes to community and visitors

BC Hydro released a survey Thursday, April 22. It found that many British Columbians are unintentionally contributing to climate change with their yard maintenance choices. (Pixabay)
Spend a lot of time doing yard work? It might be contributing to climate change

Recent BC Hydro survey finds 60% of homeowners still use gas-powered lawnmowers and yard equipment

Journal de Montreal is seen in Montreal, on Thursday, April 22, 2021. The daily newspaper uses a file picture of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau dressed in traditional Indian clothing during his trip to India to illustrate a story on the Indian variant of the coronavirus. Paul Chiasson/The Canadian Press
Montreal newspaper blasted for front-page photo of Trudeau in India

Trudeau is wearing traditional Indian clothes and holding his hands together in prayer beside a caption that reads, ‘The Indian variant has arrived’

Most Read