December is fast approaching, but there’s still no set plan for a cold-weather shelter in Parksville.
In an email to the NEWS, BC Housing said they’re still working with community organizations to find a shelter model for the Parksville Qualicum Beach area.
“Under the shelter model, services would be provided at rotating locations in different Oceanside municipalities (such as Parksville, Qualicum), including community churches. People in need would meet at one central location, where transportation provided by BC Housing would take them to a shelter,” said Andrea Coutts, spokesperson for BC Housing. “Once the plan is finalized by the community partners, they will receive operational funding from BC Housing for staffing and services. Community partners will present their plan to BC Housing in the coming weeks.”
Robin Campbell, director of Manna Homeless Society, a charity advocating for people affected by homelessness in Parksville and Qualicum Beach, said there not being anywhere for people to escape the cold is getting increasingly dangerous. He added people haven’t moved away from Parksville because of the absence of a shelter — they’re still here and anxiously awaiting news on a shelter.
“Even if it’s not cold, it’s just wet, just imagine just being wet and never being dry,” said Campbell. “It’s unbelievable that it’s legislated that certain places can’t be used and stuff, it’s beyond belief.”
Campbell said even once there’s cold-weather shelters in place, the model of churches sharing the job, rather than it being at one specified location, is still worrying. In addition, he said the allotted eight beds won’t be enough to accommodate the number of people in need.
“It’s not consistent enough,” he said. “It’s bad enough, you’ve fallen on bad times… you’re almost being punished for it by being poor.”
Updates are expected from BC Housing later this month.