New shelter would provide opportunities for Comox Valley homeless

Dear editor,

Over the past several months, I have read the papers and listened intently to the media coverage surrounding the development of a new homeless shelter for the Comox Valley.

Dear editor,

Over the past several months, I have read the papers and listened intently to the media coverage surrounding the development of a new homeless shelter for the Comox Valley.

What I have learned is that we live in a wonderful caring community that understands that there is a great need to provide assistance to those in need, but that there are also a vast deal of unanswered concerns that need to be addressed.

While The Salvation Army is not officially a part of the process for the development of a new shelter at this time (the decision as to the service provider has yet to be addressed for this new facility), I would like to provide some insight from the experience that I have gained from nearly 20 years in working with those whom are homeless or at risk of being homeless.

The Salvation Army is the largest non-governmental provider of social services in Canada. In the Comox Valley, we operate the shelter located on Pidcock Avenue. We are the only Salvation Army shelter in the province that does not operate 24/7 due to city bylaw restrictions.

This means that come 8:30 each morning, our guests must leave the shelter and face the elements on the streets of Courtenay. The current shelter also does not have any instructional/classroom facilities from which life-skill training/groups can be conducted.

With the lack of a drop-in centre in the Valley, there is truly no place for the homeless to go during the daytime hours. The services that are needed to be accessed — mental health, nursing centre, employment supports, etc. are all downtown.

There has been great debate about the proposed shelter being located in the heart of the downtown core area. Concerns surrounding aggressive panhandling and public urination have been brought forth.

The development of a new shelter in the downtown core provides the opportunity for individuals to access clean, safe washroom facilities, access to laundry and resources that will provide them with the opportunity to try and break free from the cycle of poverty and homelessness.

The local Chamber of Commerce and downtown business association are deeply caring individuals and desire to see the very best for, not only the City of Courtenay, but for the entire Valley.  They desire to see the downtown area be a successful and thriving place for merchants to do business and a safe and fun place for those of all ages.

As the proprietor of a business in the downtown area, I desire the same thing. However, evidence has shown that the establishment of a shelter in the downtown core does not increase concerns or issues, but rather can be a major assistance in tackling the issues already present.

The development of a new shelter will not solve homelessness in the Comox Valley. However, with a facility that can provide life-skill training, addiction resources, access to case management in a safe, clean environment, we can provide a hand up to those caught in this cycle.

For more information on what The Salvation Army does, and in particular, The Dignity Project, please go to http://dignity.salvationarmy.ca.

Darryl Burry

Editor’s note: Darryl Burry is pastor/executive director of the Salvation Army’s Comox Valley Ministries.

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

Just Posted

Union Bay voters chose a new direction Saturday. Photo by Mike Chouinard
Union Bay voters opt for governance change

More than seventy per cent support dissolving UBID to roll services into regional district

A small crash in the water south of Courtenay Saturday afternoon. Two men had to be rescued, but reports indicate there were no serious injuries. Photo by Mike Chouinard
Small plane crash south of Courtenay Saturday afternoon

Two rescued from plane that had flipped in water; no serious injuries reported

Rogan is a three-year-old border collie who has an 'incredible bond' between him and a family member. Photo by Erin Haluschak
‘Incredible bond’ credited for dog who assisted in emergency

Three-year-old dog Rogan came to the rescue of a family member who fell

Environment Canada has issued a special weather statement forecasting windy weather Sunday and Monday. (News Bulletin file photo)
More windy weather on the way for Vancouver Island

Environment Canada issues special weather statement for Victoria, east coast of Island, north Island

A map of Comox Valley schools. Screenshot, Fraser Institute
Comox Valley schools near mid-pack in Fraser Institute rankings

A few schools went up or down a few points, but most came in with similar marks

Mary Cox and Jack Plant dance in their pyjamas and slippers at the morning pyjama dance during the Rhythm Reelers’ 25 Annual Rally in the Valley Square Dance Festival in Chilliwack on June 4, 2011. Sunday, Nov. 29, 2020 is Square Dancing Day. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress file)
Unofficial holidays: Here’s what people are celebrating for the week of Nov. 29 to Dec. 5

Square Dancing Day, Disability Day and International Ninja Day are all coming up this week

Black Press Media and BraveFace have come together to support children facing life-threatening conditions. Net proceeds from these washable, reusable, three-layer masks go to Make-A-Wish Foundation BC & Yukon.
Put on a BraveFace: Help make children’s wishes come true

Black Press Media, BraveFace host mask fundraiser for Make-A-Wish Foundation

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

Kevin Bieksa during his days playing with the Vancouver Canucks. (Photo: commons.wikimedia.org)
Bieksa to guest on free Canucks Alumni ‘Hot Stove’ on Zoom app

Former NHL player has become a game analyst on Sportsnet

A photo from 2017, of Nuchatlaht First Nation members outside court after filing a land title case in B.C. ( Submitted photo/Nuchatlaht First Nation).
Vancouver Island First Nation calls on B.C. to honour UNDRIP in historic title case

Nuchatlaht First Nation says Crown counsel continues to stall the case using the ‘distasteful’ argument that the Nation ‘abandoned’ their land

West Vancouver Island’s Ehattesaht First Nation continues lock down after 9 active cases were reported today after a visitor tested positive last week. (Ehattesaht First Nation/Facebook)
Ehattesaht First Nation’s COVID-19 nightmare: nine active cases, a storm and a power outage

The Vancouver Island First Nation in a lockdown since the first case was reported last week

The Blackberry Lane Children’s Centre outgrown its space in the back of the Denman Island Community Hall. Photo supplied
Denman Island to have new preschool with metal roof

Thanks to a local government grant and community support, the Denman Island… Continue reading

114 Canadians were appointed Nov. 27 to the Order of Canada. (Governor General of Canada photo)
Indigenous actor, author, elder, leaders appointed to Order of Canada

Outstanding achievement, community dedication and service recognized

The Ahousaht First Nation confirmed its first case of COVID-19 on Nov. 26, 2020. (Westerly file photo)
Ahousaht First Nation on lockdown over COVID-19

“Emotions are high. The anxiety is high. We want our community to pull through.”

Most Read