Cold-weather shelter solution needed

I’m writing regarding the Parksville winter shelter.

This service was going to be located in the new Orca Place, where there is a purpose-built area offering separate areas for men and women, showers, hot meals, and trained 24/7 staff. Our city council paid $700,000 of taxpayer money to remove the shelter from this building, leaving its future in jeopardy.

Looking at Vancouver Island, there are cold-weather or year-round emergency shelters in Nanaimo, Port Alberni, Courtenay, Campbell River, Duncan, Victoria – even Sooke and Saltspring Island provide this life-saving service for residents.

I’m appalled that the elected officials of Parksville-Qualicum are refusing to offer help to the most vulnerable people of our community. Those who made and support this decision need to look around at their comfortable and safe homes and lives, and ask themselves what kind of person allows fellow humans to suffer.

On average in Canada, 1% of our population is homeless. In District 69, that would mean up to 500 citizens homeless or at risk each year. Downloading this responsibility onto local churches and volunteers is patently unfair. It is too late to buy and build on another appropriately-zoned site. Moving the location amongst churches throughout the district will lead to confusion and likely increase illness and deaths.

I’d like to hear what elected councils and mayors are willing to do to address this gap. As the weather worsens, we need a solution now.

Stephanie Peter

Parksville

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