BC Housing announced late Friday (Feb. 19) that a new, eight-bed winter shelter will be available in Parksville.
Laura Mathews, manager of media relations and issues management for BC Housing, issued a release saying the shelter will provide “a much-needed warm, safe and secure place to sleep for people who are experiencing homelessness in the community.”
Located at St. Edmunds Anglican Church, 407 Wembley Rd., the shelter is being operated by Oceanside Homelessness Ecumenical Advocacy Response (OHEART) and will open during evenings every night until March 31. The release said outreach workers have been connecting with people throughout the community sleeping outside to ensure they’re aware of the new shelter which will open tonight.
The shelter is being funded by the province, through BC Housing, for the remainder of the winter season, until the end of March. The release indicated it will provide guests with a clean bed, food, access to a washroom and will ensure people are following pandemic health guidelines, including physical distancing.
In addition to this new shelter, BC Housing has secured 16 emergency response centre spaces in Parksville.
These are leased rooms in a hotel where people who are experiencing or at-risk of homelessness can access shelter and physically distance during the pandemic.
A makeshift cold-weather camp that popped up in Parksville’s St. Anne Church’s back parking lot earlier this week has been disbanded.
Kelly Morris, the camp’s organizer, said they were asked to relocate by the church on Thursday, Feb. 18.
“And now we’re going out towards the community centre,” said Morris. “I’m going to hopefully set up another camp right outside the mayor’s office.”
Morris is advocating for the Parksville Community Centre to be opened up as a 24-hour shelter since the building has all the necessities needed in a shelter, and currently stands empty.