Qualicum Beach Coun. Scott Harrison hopes a back-to-work program could be created for the people residing in Parksville’s Orca Place supportive housing complex.
Harrison said the ability to participate in the workforce is a vital component in helping some of the 52 residents of Orca Place transition out of the facility.
He recently made a motion that was supported by council, expressing the Town of Qualicum Beach’s willingness to discuss opportunities as an employer that will work with the relevant stakeholders should a program to support Orca Place residents re-entering the workforce become a reality.
“It’s not set in stone because the program does not exist yet,” said Harrison. “But just for the Orca Place saying that if they get a back-to-work program, we will consider working with them as a town.”
Harrison said that in conversations he has had with the Island Crisis Care Society, the group that manages the supportive housing facility, a program may be established in six months or so.
What the town hopes for is to offer temporary jobs for residents leaving the facility, said Harrison.
“It’s just for a few months but it is something to give them a job reference on their resumés,” said Harrison.
The councillor said he attended a meeting where he heard a mother whose son went through the process of changing his life but struggled to get a job.
“He sent out 16 resumés and her words were ‘no one called back,’” Harrison said. “He then just threw up his hands and went back to the big city and he’s back on the streets again.”
What Harrison wants to see happen is provide residents with an opportunity to work.
“One of the things about this idea is it’s not going to be for everyone in Orca Place,” said Harrison. “It’s not going to be permanent. But for that first three-month job to get a job reference. So if you go to the private sector, local employers will see and say, ‘oh, you worked for the town.’ And then they can call our manager to get details. It’s a way to put a foot in the door to get employed.”
Orca Place is a 52-unit building located on 222 Corfield St. that opened in August.
Staff works with residents, who are each given individualized support. They have the ability to choose the goals they would like to work towards. There were 118 people who applied to live in Orca Place.