A cold-weather shelter will no longer open at the new BC Housing supportive housing project at 222 Corfield, after the City of Parksville purchased the property for $700,000.
To secure full control over the use of the property, the city has also repaid a $492,400 grant-in-aid provided by the Regional District of Nanaimo (RDN).
To purchase the property, the city used funds from its accumulated surplus budget.
A cold-weather shelter was originally proposed for the 52-unit supportive housing facility, but the repayment of the grant-in-aid will facilitate the relocation of the cold weather shelter component, which was a requirement of the RDN.
According to a press release from the city, with the repayment, the RDN no longer has an option to purchase the property for $10 and can no longer require the city to permit the cold-weather shelter at the property.
“BC Housing has agreed to the relocation of the cold-weather shelter from the property and is actively working to determine an alternate location and a longer-term tenure for the cold weather shelter before Nov. 1, 2019,” states the release.
“Removal of the shelter from the supportive housing project will not result in an increase to the number of supportive housing units.”
Deb Tardiff, communications manager with the City of Parksville, said the city’s purchase of the property doesn’t affect operations, regulations or requirements for the facility.
The city’s press release mentions the city has negotiated an amendment to the lease provisions with BC Housing to reflect the change in use and to receive confirmation from BC Housing that a soup kitchen facility will not be located at 222 Corfield. Tardiff later confirmed there were never any plans for a soup kitchen but the information was included in the press release for clarity.
“So there would be a level of comfort for residents, rather then ongoing speculation,” Tardiff said.
In an emailed response to the NEWS, BC Housing said a soup kitchen was not planned by them for 222 Corfield, and is not part of the regular model for supportive housing.
BC Housing added that it’s working with community providers to find a location for a shelter in Parksville.
“The shelter component has been removed from the supportive housing project at 222 Corfield in Parksville,” reads the email.
“We anticipate that this space in the building will be allocated for a purpose beneficial to the community. Future uses are being discussed with the City of Parksville.”
Violet Hayes, executive director of Island Crisis Care Society, who will operate the supportive housing facility, said she is upset there will no longer be a cold-weather shelter at the 222 Corfield site.
“We’ve been struggling for years to find a place for the shelter,” Hayes said. “Arbutus Grove (Church) has been very gracious in the last two years to provide a space in the church but it’s not ideal because we don’t have showers, we don’t have laundry facilities and we only have one room so we have to have men and women in one room. It’s challenging.”
Hayes said consultation to remove the shelter portion was done between the city and BC Housing.
“[A shelter] has been running for the last seven years or so, it’s very much needed in the community so it needs to be somewhere,” Hayes said. “Now we have to start trying to find a place and it took us many years to find the (current) location.”
Hayes said the supportive housing units are expected to open in July and ICCS are in the final stages of assessments to find residents.
“We’ve been meeting weekly and going through the list of applications. I think the last I heard we had 116 applications for 52 units,” Hayes said.