Homelessness to be probed at forum

District 69 is not immune to the scourge of homelessness

Though people don’t always recognize it, homelessness is a problem in District 69 and an upcoming forum will delve into the issue and possible solutions.

A recent survey counted 68 homeless people in the Parksville and Qualicum Beach areas known as District 69, with 38 adults and five children considered “absolute homeless” and another 25 “at risk.”

The public is invited to one of two public forums sponsored by the Oceanside Task Force on Homelessness, on March 22.

With a panel of experts followed by a discussion period, the three and a half hour forums will help inform the public and spur on efforts to help.

Task force co-chair Major Martin Ketteringham of the Salvation Army will moderate and explain the survey results and how it was done with the help of 40 volunteers.

He will also talk about the Extreme Weather Shelter which is operated at the Salvation Army Church on designated nights. In its second year it is sponsored by the task force, with funding from BC Housing.

There will also be a city planner, an outreach worker, a police officer and person who has experienced homelessness taking part in the discussions and available to answer questions and talk about the causes and affects both on individuals and the community.

The two forums will conclude with a community engagement session facilitated by co-chair and Society of Organized Services executive director Renate Sutherland, to further the discussion, specifially regarding solutions.

The task force receives funding from the City of Parksville and the Regional District of Nanaimo through the Vancouver Island Health Authority.

There are two forums on Thursday, March 22 so people can attend the most convenient time.

The first runs from 11 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. at the Christian Fellowship Centre on Village Way, Qualicum Beach.

The evening session runs from 5 to 8:30 p.m. at the Parksville Community and Conference Centre on Jensen Avenue, East in Parksville. Each session starts with a “soup kitchen” meal that is served at no charge to the participants.

To register for the limited seating, call the SOS at 250-248-2093 ext. 227 or e-mail admin@sosd69.com.