KEN KELLY IS a guest at the Pidcock House emergency shelter in Courtenay. Brent Hobden (below) is the Salvation Army's community ministries director in the Comox Valley.

Shelter in Courtenay definitely not a hotel

Ken Kelly feels like he's 17, but in truth he's 78.

Ken Kelly feels like he’s 17, but in truth he’s 78.

His lungs aren’t what they used to be, abused from years of smoking, but he still loves walking.

During the best three years of his life, Ken would walk from Campbell River to Willow Point and back — twice a day when the sun was shining.

These days, Ken is keeping his eyes peeled for a place to live, preferably near Driftwood Mall where he could walk to his church. In the meantime, he is staying at the Pidcock House emergency shelter in Courtenay.

He wound up on the street after vacating an apartment he shared with a “noisy cokehead” of a roommate.

“What gets me is it’s easier to find a two-bedroom apartment than it is a one-bedroom apartment. I don’t know why. Seems that way to me,” Ken says from the men’s den, where another guest tosses him a pack of smokes. “I honestly believe it’s cheaper for a person to take a mortgage on a house.”

Ken, who was born and raised in Cumberland, was once a homeowner until relationship issues complicated his life.

He doesn’t have much use for overpaid professional athletes —  “the love of money is the root of all evil” — but his mood lightens when he considers the less-fortunate members of the community.

“It hurts me to look at someone in a wheelchair.”

Ken’s temporary home is a high-barrier, adult shelter operated by the Salvation Army. It contains 18 beds, 14 supplied by BC Housing and four by the Sally Ann. There are 12 beds for men downstairs and six beds for women on the main floor.

‘High-barrier’ refers to a protocol where intoxicated individuals are sent for a walk before settling in for the night.

“We have a lot of people in here who are maybe recovering alcoholics or addicts,” community ministries director Brent Hobden said. “You never know what’s going to trigger a person.”

Along with beds, Pidcock House offers healthy meals, showers and laundry. There are separate TV rooms for men and women. A new program room with two computer stations is conducive to small group sessions where guests can chat with Hobden or case worker/chaplain Alastair Hunting.

Outside, a gazebo will soon be added to the backyard area, which contains a garden and a horseshoe pitch.

There are two employees working three shifts a day at Pidcock. Typically, a volunteer also assists before and after dinner.

Guests can stay up to a month, after which they need to work on a Personal Development Plan for employment, education, lodging and health care options.

The PDP — developed in a cramped intake room near the entrance — is a key element of the shelter, the goal of which is to achieve stable, long-term housing for guests.

“Anybody can operate a hotel,” Hobden said. “That not what we’re about. The Salvation Army does this because we are passionate in making sure that people’s lives are changed. I don’t believe there’s a single person in this Valley that wants to live outside, that really wants to be homeless.”

This year, the Province committed $500,000 in ongoing, annual funding to ensure Pidcock continues to provide 24/7 support.

Another facility in the Comox Valley — Lilli House — provides shelter for women and children.

The City of Courtenay has purchased property at Braidwood Road to establish a supportive housing project.

But people continue to live on the streets.

“The shelter is very much undersized,” Hobden said, noting Pidcock turned away 99 people in October. Halfway into November, about 35 people have been turned aside.

In the case of extreme weather, the shelter can sleep an additional 15 people on mats in a spare room and in the lounges.

It’s tempting to think such cramped quarters would be a recipe for disaster, but life at Pidcock is pretty much in keeping with its Good Neighbour Agreement.

“In every family you’re going to have the odd problem, but we haven’t had a lot of incidents,” Hobden said.

reporter@comoxvalleyrecord.com

 

Just Posted

A talent in the making

Pats consider 16-year-old a leader

More than 150 tremors hit Vancouver Island in last 24 hours

Seismologists monitor to see if pressure will be added to major fault

Potlatch 67-67:

This is the third part of a three-part June series looking at… Continue reading

Comox Valley Schools to see trustee shakeup next fall

Four of seven trustees have stated they will not run for re-election in October

UPDATED: Remains of two people found in Ucluelet

Officials have not said whether or not the remains belong to Ryan Daley or Dan Archbald

Homeless people living on ‘Surrey Strip’ move into modular housing

BC Housing says 160 homeless people are being moved into temporary Whalley suites from June 19 to 21

Port of Prince Rupert names Shaun Stevenson as new CEO

Stevenson has worked for the port for 21 years as vice president of trade development

Senate officially passes Canada’s marijuana legalization bill

Bill C-45 now moves to royal assent, which is the final step in the legislative process

Public to have say about pot

Cannabis Act has passed third reading

Fake attempted abduction not funny to B.C. neighbourhood residents

Two teenage boys won’t face criminal charges after scaring girl

Mosquitoes out in full force already? Blame the weather

But a B.C. mosquito expert says the heat wave will help keep the pests at bay

Man pleads not guilty in 1987 slayings of Vancouver Island couple

William Talbott of SeaTac was arraigned Tuesday in Snohomish County Superior Court

New GOP plan: Hold kids longer at border – but with parents

Move would ease rules that limit how much time minors can be held with their parents

Without a big data strategy, Canadians at risk of being ‘data cows’

Presentation said artificial intelligence could give Facebook and Amazon even more power

Most Read