Homeless task force asking City of Parksville for some land

Task force, city council expected to meeting behind closed doors soon to discuss possibilities

Members of the Oceanside Task Force on Homelessness showed city council last week the kind of building they would like to see in Parksville, complete with 30 housing units, shelter beds and support staff.

The task force recently received a $10,000 grant from the provincial government to put together a plan for a free-standing structure to house the homeless and provide services to those in need.

“It starts with the city stepping up and providing us with some land,” said the task force’s Sharon Welch. “We’ve heard once the city is in the chances are greater the province would be in.”

Is there a parcel of land the task force has targeted as suitable?

“We believe we have come to a few possibilities,” said Welch, who also said the provincial government, through B.C. Housing, has encouraged the local group to apply for funding for a building.

Task force members Welch and Sarah Poole gave city council a history of their group, highlighted some success stories and then laid out what they would like to see in a new facility, showing photos of similar facilities in Duncan and Nanaimo.

The task force members said ideally they would like to see a facility that’s three-four stories that includes the following:

• 30 housing units.

• 10-20 shelter beds.

• public laundry and shower.

• drop-in centre.

• kitchen facilities.

• garden space

• offices for support staff and other related services.

The task force members also said they would like to get the current extreme-weather shelter’s status changed to a cold-weather shelter, meaning it would be open every night between Nov. 1-March 31. Currently the shelter housed in the Salvation Army on the corner of Jensen Avenue and Alberni Highway is opened on a day-to-day basis during those months, depending on the severity of the weather.

When it received the grant from the provincial government, task force members said they expected to have a proposal for a facility completed and ready to roll out to the public in June. At the city council meeting last week, Mayor Marc Lefebvre said council and the task force should meet soon — behind closed doors — to discuss possible sites for the facility.