Manna Homeless Society founder Robin Campbell with a tarp and sleeping bag that was given to homeless people in the region.

THURSDAY SPOTLIGHT: More homeless, fewer services in Parksville Qualicum Beach

Manna Homeless Society founder says he is seeing more homeless who are elderly, female and youth; still no word on winter shelter

Describing itself as ‘the 911 of the street’, the Manna Homeless Society believes the coming winter will be packed with more challenges than it has ever faced.

“It seems that there are less community services to go around to assist the less fortunate and this has put a larger load onto Manna,” society founder Robin Campbell said in his most recent report to supporters.

Manna provides the needy of Parksville Qualicum Beach with tents, clothing, footwear — as many items as they can get from generous individuals and companies in the region. Campbell said Manna is seeing an increase in the number of people taking advantage of their hand-outs.

“We are seeing more elderly, women and youth than ever before,” said Campbell. “We are seeing a rise in drug and substance abuse, as less services are being provided. We are finding that we have gone from a community that had denied that we have a homeless problem a few years ago to a community that is now trying to catch up and find assistance for the less fortunate.”

Campbell said there are many organizations, like churches and service clubs, who have provided help. He also said there needs to be better co-ordination and leadership.

“This is a workable situation which could be fixed, working together as a team to solve this problem,” said Campbell. “I am not saying that there are not churches or any of the groups that I have mentioned helping, but they refuse to work together as a team to solve this problem.”

Campbell also singled out Mayor Marc Lefebvre.

“We have not seen leadership from the mayor’s office stepping up and taking a leadership role in ending the plight of the homeless,” said Campbell. “Without their help the less fortunate are doomed in the Oceanside area.”

The mayor responded to Campbell’s comments on Tuesday.

“An awful lot of people are working on this and my office is providing all kinds of leadership,” said Lefebvre.

At time of writing Wednesday morning, there was no word on an extreme weather shelter for the Parksville Qualicum Beach region this winter, as there has been in past years. There’s also no word on any kind of permanent shelter with accompanying services, a facility that was the centre of attention with members of the Oceanside Homelessness Task Force one year ago.

A housing/homeless shelter proposal submitted by the local task force to B.C. Housing in August didn’t meet the standard and needs to be re-worked, MLA Michelle Stilwell said in the summer.

The task force received a $10,000 gaming grant from the provincial government in April to develop a plan. Task force officials said in August there was nothing in that plan that hasn’t been discussed for months or years — no drawings, budget or costing info. They also couldn’t detail exactly how that $10,000 was spent.

Stilwell confirmed in the summer the submission was not what she expected. In fact, she said she wasn’t even told the task force was going to submit an application for funding to B.C. Housing.

“Their application was based on their vision, not a feasibility study,” Stilwell told The NEWS in August. “Maybe there was some misunderstanding on what a feasibility study looks like, I’m not sure. Certainly putting that proposal to B.C. Housing is not going to be enough to solidify a solution.”

Sarah Poole, who left the employ of the task force and the Society of Organized Services in August to further her education, told The NEWS before she left that the task force was waiting for the city to fulfil a commitment it made in the spring to provide land for a facility.

Poole and task force co-chair Violet Hayes said in August that without the land from the city, it’s not possible to provide B.C. Housing with any specifics about any future building.

The task force has said publicly it wants to provide a facility with 30 housing units, 10-20 shelter beds, public laundry and shower, drop-in centre, kitchen facilities, garden space and offices for support staff and other related services.

Since Manna Society members started helping the homeless of the region in 2011, the number of items they have given to the needy has increased dramatically. For example, the society provided 101 sleeping bags in 2011 and then 280 in 2015. They gave out 1,247 bags of groceries in 2011 and 4,442 in 2015.

Campbell has also put out a call for people to donate items for this fall/winter.

“We need large and extra large warm winter coats,” he said. “The reason we would like large and extra large is due to the fact our clients layer their clothing. We are looking for good rain gear and rubber boots. We need a good supply of gloves and warm socks. We need men and woman’s under clothing. We need umbrellas, hand warmers, foot warmers and scarfs. We need good, quality, small, two-man tents. Then we need everything else to survive in these very cold nights and damp climate until summer comes around again.”

You can learn more about Manna, including contact information and how to donate, on its website (www.mannahs.com). You can also call Campbell at 250-248-0845.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Members of local fire departments will ‘fill the boots for food’ as part of an annual fundraiser. (Submitted photo)
Parksville Qualicum Beach fire departments participate in 2020 Fill the Boots for Food Drive

Donations can be made in various locations throughout the region

Pumpkins on the Drive display is now on from Oct. 30 to Nov. 1. (Michael Briones photo)
A rally will be held at the St. Andrews Lodge and Cottages property on Nov. 2. (Town of Qualicum Beach Photo)
Qualicum Beach residents to stage rally to save historic St. Andrews Lodge

Event is aimed at stopping town from removing or demolishing old building

Candidates in the Parksville-Qualicum riding include Rob Lyon, B.C. Green Party, top left; Don Purdey, Conservatives; John St. John, independent; Michelle Stilwell, B.C. Liberals; and Adam Walker, B.C. NDP. (Photos submitted/Elections B.C. image)
More than 12,000 mail-in ballots received from Parksville Qualicum voters

Elections BC to report final tallies after Nov. 6

City of Parksville released a community COVID-19 update, dated Oct. 26. (NEWS file photo)
City of Parksville releases COVID-19 update for community

New provincial health order limits gatherings in homes to immediate household plus ‘safe six’

Over the years, Janice Blackie-Goodine’s home in Summerland has featured elaborate Halloween displays and decorations each October. (File photo)
QUIZ: How much do you really know about Halloween?

Oct. 31 is a night of frights. How much do you know about Halloween customs and traditions?

The North Cowichan/Duncan RCMP are looking for information about William Mack, last seen in Duncan on Oct. 28. (File photo)
Police searching for missing man last seen near Duncan

William Mack, 72, was seen on Gibbins Road on Oct. 28

FILE - In this Jan. 23, 1987 file photo, actor Sean Connery holds a rose in his hand as he talks about his new movie “The Name of the Rose” at a news conference in London. Scottish actor Sean Connery, considered by many to have been the best James Bond, has died aged 90, according to an announcement from his family. (AP Photo/Gerald Penny, File)
Actor Sean Connery, the ‘original’ James Bond, dies at 90

Oscar-winner was knighted by Queen Elizabeth II in 2000

This house at 414 Royal Ave. became notorious for its residents’ and visitors’ penchant for attracting police. It was also the site of a gruesome torture in August 2018. It was demolished in 2019. KTW
6-year sentence for Kamloops man who helped carve ‘rat’ into flesh of fellow gang member

Ricky Dennis was one of three men involved in the August 2018 attack

Cpl. Nathan Berze, media officer for the Mission RCMP, giving an update on the investigation at 11:30 a.m., Oct. 30. Patrick Penner photo.
VIDEO: Prisoner convicted of first-degree murder still at large from Mission Institution

When 10 p.m. count was conducted, staff discovered Roderick Muchikekwanape had disappeared

Among the pumpkin carvings created this year by Rick Chong of Abbotsford is this tribute to fallen officer Cont. Allan Young.
Abbotsford pumpkin carver’s creations include fallen police officer

Rick Chong carves and displays 30 pumpkins every year

An online fundraising campaign in support of the six-year-old boy, Edgar Colby, who was hit by a car on Range Road Oct. 25 has raised more than $62,000 in a day. (Submitted)
$62K raised in 1 day for boy in coma at BC Children’s after being hit by vehicle in Yukon

The boy’s aunt says the family is “very grateful” for the support they’ve received from the community

Police service dog Herc helped RCMP locate and arrest suspects in the Ladysmith area on Oct. 23, 2020, related to a stolen vehicle. (Submitted)
RCMP nab prolific property offender in Ladysmith with assist from police dog Herc

Police attempted to stop the vehicle but it fled from the area towards Chemainus.

Health care employees take extensive precautions when working with people infected or suspected of having COVID-19. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chris Young
WorkSafeBC disallows majority of COVID-19 job injury claims

Health care, social services employees filing the most claims

Most Read