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.

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

 

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

Just Posted

Two vehicles collided Wednesday morning north of Courtenay on the Old Island Highway. Photo by Mike Chouinard
Two-car MVA north of Courtenay

Accident took place after 7 a.m. on the Old Island Highway

COVID cases in the Bella Coola Valley have dropped to just four active cases (file photo)
Comox Valley COVID spike the result of ‘a series of multiple social gatherings’

North Island Medical Health Officer Dr. Charmaine Enns says the recent spike… Continue reading

FILE – A COVID-19 vaccine being prepared. (Olivia Sullivan/Sound Publishing)
B.C. seniors 80 years and older to get COVID vaccine details over next 2 weeks: Henry

Province is expanding vaccine workforce as officials ramp up age-based rollout

A 19-year-old man is in police custody following a recent violent robbery and assault in Comox . (File photo)
Arrest made in violent robbery and assault of Comox gas station employee

A 19-year old man is in police custody following a recent violent… Continue reading

An Atlantic salmon is seen during a Fisheries and Oceans Canada fish-health audit at a farm near Campbell River, B.C. in 2018. The BC Salmon Farmers Association is asking Ottawa for renewed discussions with stakeholders and First Nations to allow for an equitable agreement on the government-ordered departure from the Discovery Islands. (Canadian Press/Jonathan Hayward photo)
B.C. salmon farmers request more time to leave Discovery Islands

DFO’s current deadline will lead to the cull of 10.7-million young fish

B.C. health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry and health minister Adrian Dix wore pink shirts to showcase this year’s motto: “Lift each other up.” (Twitter/PinkShirtDay)
PHOTOS: B.C. celebs take a stand against bullying on Pink Shirt Day

‘We need to let young people know they are not alone and they can reach out to others for help’

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

Average response times for critical “purple” and “red” calls were between nine and 10 minutes Feb. 19 in Metro Vancouver, with only less critical “yellow” calls receiving an average response time of 45 minutes. The longer than usual delay was due to a combination of factors, BC Emergency Health Services said. (APBC image)
After a night of one-hour waits for ambulances, union goes public with concerns

B.C. Ambulance Service says high-priority calls were still 10 minutes or less

NorKam secondary student Karis Wilson in the outfit that got her sent home from school on Tuesday, Feb. 23, 2021. (Contributed to Kamloops This Week)
B.C. teen in turtleneck, lace-edged dress sent home from school for ‘inappropriate’ outfit

NorKam secondary student Karis Wilson was told the lace on the garment made it look like a slip dress

Seagulls and other marine birds packed the shoreline at Kye Bay in March (2020), as the herring roe provided a feast for the feathered community. Photo by Terry Farrell
MARS Moment: Herring spawn to produce increased marine life activity near shoreline

Jane Thomson Special to Black Press Wild times are coming to a… Continue reading

Vancouver Canucks left wing Antoine Roussel (26) tries to get a shot past Edmonton Oilers goaltender Mike Smith (41) during second period NHL action in Vancouver, Tuesday, Feb. 23, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Canucks cough up 3-0 lead, fall 4-3 to visiting Edmonton Oilers

Vancouver falls to 8-13-2 on the NHL season

Jessica McCallum-Miller receives her signed oath of office from city chief administrative officer Heather Avison on Nov. 5, 2018 after being elected to Terrace City Council. McCallum-Miller resigned on Feb. 22, 2021, saying she felt unsupported and unheard by council. (Black Press Media File Photo)
Terrace’s 1st Indigenous councillor resigns citing ‘systemic and internalized racism,’ sexism

McCallum-Miller said in a Facebook post she felt unheard and unsupported by council

Temporary changes to allow for wholesale pricing for the hospitality industry were implemented June 2020 and set to expire March 31.	(Pixabay photo)
Pubs, restaurants to pay wholesale prices on liquor permanently in COVID-recovery

Pre-pandemic, restaurateurs and tourism operators paid full retail price on most liquor purchases

The 2021 YANA Big Love Benefit will be a live-streamed event, including an online auction. Photo by McKinnon Photography
COVID restrictions force changes to YANA Big Love Benefit

Ongoing provincially-imposed COVID-19 restrictions have forced a late change in YANA’s largest… Continue reading

Most Read