The proponents of Gukwas sa Wagalus ‐ Rainbow House need local government support for a proposed transitional home for 2SLGBTQQIA+ youth who are homeless or at risk of becoming homeless.
Project manager Lee Everson and Grant Shilling, an outreach worker at the Dawn to Dawn: Action on Homelessness Society, appeared before Cumberland council Feb. 27. Shilling said Indigenous individuals and queer youth are over-represented in the unhoused population.
“Usually it’s a cycle of couch surfing and being on the street,” he said, noting the chances of moving ahead in society diminish once an individual is on the street.
They hope to construct a five-bedroom, peer supported home for youth 16-28 years.
They are requesting exemption from municipal taxes, and leniency on permitting and developmental fees, if Dawn to Dawn purchases a home in Cumberland. They also asked for a $2,500 donation to help with fundraising and community awareness. The proponents are asking the same from other local municipalities.
“This sounds great,” Coun. Troy Therrien said. “I’m glad you guys are taking this on. It sounds like a very worthwhile project.”
“I think this is an amazing project,” Cumberland Mayor Vickey Brown added. “As a first project potentially for the country, I think it belongs in Cumberland because we like to do things first.”
K’wax Dzi Dsas Update
Karver Everson and Junior Henderson are well into the process of carving a pair of K’wax Dzi Dsas welcome poles at Cumberland Community School. The poles are part of the Dawn to Dawn and CV Transition Society K’wax Dzi Dsas Cumberland Affordable Housing Project.
“Call me crazy but I remain optimistic that we’re going to get there,” Shilling said. “This work is completely top shelf.”
Everson said school children have been asking questions about the carving process and its history.
“You can really see how this will carry on through those kids, and how they’ll be attached to it,” he said. “It will live in this community as history forever.”
Shilling said the poles serve as a reminder of who’s home we are on, as well as the meaning of home and homelands. He suggests National Indigenous Day, June 21, would be an appropriate target date to erect the poles at a location to be determined.
Ideally, with additional funding, two more poles could be completed. Coun. Sean Sullivan is excited at the prospect of having four welcome poles in the village.
Substance Use Strategy
The CV Community Health Network is requesting $15,000 for Phase 3 funding for the Substance Use Strategy.
Council referred the network to the village’s Community Grant Program, and directed staff to review a request from the regional district to consider a regional social development grant service.
Council endorsed village participation in a regional FireSmart project led by the Comox Valley Regional District — which will apply for and manage grant funding on the village’s behalf.
The FireSmart program is intended to reduce the risk of wildfires and mitigate their impacts on B.C. communities.
“There’s opportunity for a fairly large grant,” Fire Chief Mike Williamson said.
Council gave first reading to the 2023-2027 financial plan bylaw, due to come back to council later in the month.
The proposed tax revenue increase for 2023 is 6.16 per cent to taxpayers.
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