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LETTER: Political will needed to provide cold-weather shelter in Parksville Qualicum Beach

It’s February and still cold, wet people have no access to a most basic need: shelter.

Where is the political will to provide this in Parksville Qualicum Beach?

On both Parksville and Qualicum Beach municipal websites, identical info on homelessness is dated 2014.

On the Oceanside Homelessness Task Force website, this sad notice is found:

A cold weather shelter has NOT been confirmed for the 2020-21 winter in Parksville Qualicum Beach yet. Watch this website for info.

The RDN website’s last update Jan. 19, 2021: [PQB] area – No shelters available at this time. Please check back later.

Political will is late and lacking in Qualicum Beach council meetings:

Oct. 28, 2020: mentions a motion will be coming.

Nov. 18: council directed staff to discuss the use of town land for a temporary cold weather shelter.

Dec. 9: No mention by mayor, councillors or staff.

Jan. 13, 2021: Staff reports discussion involves BC Housing, Parksville and RDN; there was a resurgence of interest in December 2020, and BC Housing to date has not responded.

We all know a shelter will be required in winter.

Meanwhile, political will elsewhere is active and alive.

READ MORE: Your letters here

Comox Valley funds a warming centre, open six days a week even in a pandemic. Cowichan Valley just added 39 emergency shelter individual ‘sleeping bunkies.’

PQB’s homeless count is 70-plus people, many in their later years, which I learned serving at the Soup Kitchen.

Currently, only a takeout lunch can be offered, so people are eating outside in the cold, wet weather, sitting on a curb.

We recognize the need for warming centres and shelters – places to gather strength. Why expect churches to do this work? Municipalities have a clear social responsibility.

The majority in Parksville Qualicum Beach live a sheltered life (double meaning intended): warmly housed, fed, clothed. I would appreciate hearing from our municipalities about their own actions, and when our community will provide warm, dry, caring help to homeless people.

Laurie Sieber

Qualicum Beach

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