Our Home on 8th, the Port Alberni Shelter that opened in March 2019, has 27 extra ‘extreme weather’ spaces for people who need a place to get out of the cold. (SUSAN QUINN/ Alberni Valley News)

Our Home on 8th, the Port Alberni Shelter that opened in March 2019, has 27 extra ‘extreme weather’ spaces for people who need a place to get out of the cold. (SUSAN QUINN/ Alberni Valley News)

BC VOTES 2020: Mid-Island candidate plans occupation of shelter to protest homelessness

Graham Hughes says homeless situation a ‘crisis’ in Port Alberni

Mid Island-Pacific Rim independent candidate Graham Hughes will be staging an occupation of the Port Alberni Shelter Society on Friday, Oct. 23 to protest the handling of Port Alberni’s homelessness problem.

The Port Alberni Shelter Society operates the Our Home on Eighth full-service shelter, low-barrier housing and a sobering centre at Phoenix House, an overdose prevention site and community farm, all in and around Port Alberni. Hughes said his sister died while she was a client of the shelter six years ago.

Hughes decided to run for MLA as an independent candidate on a social advocacy platform. He said he hopes to “provide a voice for the disenfranchised in our community.”

Hughes and fellow candidates Helen Poon (BC Liberals) and Rob Clarke (BC Libertarian Party) spent several nights last weekend walking around the city’s vulnerable neighbourhoods handing out warm blankets, food and naloxone kits. Hughes said the homelessness situation is “in crisis,” and is asking his supporters to help him demonstrate for attention on Oct. 23.

“We will be building a tent city around the shelter society in solidarity with the homeless population who we have let die, and suffer and be traumatized because we trusted charities to do the right thing and everybody just assumed that they were,” he said.

Hughes has been vocal in his opposition to the shelter and the way it is operated.

Shelter society executive director Wes Hewitt said he was aware of Hughes’ call to occupy the shelter, but declined to address specific accusations Hughes has made publicly against the shelter. “BC Housing is aware of (the occupation) and so is Island Health.”

Hughes said officials should be petitioning to take over the former Gill Elementary School facility, which is sitting empty since School District 70 (Pacific Rim) reorganized a number of years ago. Community organizations have used the building for storage and training operations, but the property has not been sold nor has the school been demolished.

“We need to turn that into a youth shelter, and with the $3.5 million the shelter is currently receiving every year, we can open a youth shelter. We need to be doing these things…we can change the way this community is run.”

In an e-mail sent to two dozen municipal officials as well as the media Hughes appeared to throw his support behind BC Green Party candidate Evan Jolicoeur. He reiterated that in a YouTube video uploaded to his campaign Facebook page: “I am in Evan’s corner,” Hughes said.

Several hours later Jolicoeur released a statement confirming Hughes is endorsing him in Saturday’s provincial election.

BC politicsBC Votes 2020HomelessPORT ALBERNI

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

Just Posted

Ultra runner Jerry Hughes circles the track at the Cowichan Sportsplex as he nears the end of his six-day Canadian record attempt and fundraiser in November. (Kevin Rothbauer/Citizen)
Six days on the Cowichan Sportsplex track for ultramarathoner

Record bid misses, but fundraiser a success

Nanaimo-North Cowichan MLA Doug Routley was passed up for a cabinet position by Premier John Horgan. (Photo submitted)
Nanaimo-North Cowichan MLA Routley left off the list of NDP cabinet ministers again

Premier Horgan opts for some newcomers in key positions over experienced MLA

Protesters stand in front of a truck carrying logs to the WFP Ladysmith log sort. (Cole Schisler photo)
Protesters block entrance to Western Forest Products in Ladysmith

Blockade cleared by Ladysmith RCMP around noon, December 2

Cowichan RCMP rally against gender-based violence. (Robert Barron/Citizen)
Cowichan RCMP mark campaign against gender-based violence

16 days of activism runs until Dec. 10

Natalie MacMaster and Donnell Leahy are inviting audiences into their home for ‘A Celtic Family Christmas’. (Submitted)
Natalie MacMaster coming to you through Cowichan Performing Arts Centre

Here’s your chance to enjoy the famed fiddler in an online show with her husband Donnell Leahy.

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry updates B.C.’s coronavirus situation at the legislature, Nov. 30, 2020. (B.C. government)
Hockey team brought COVID-19 back from Alberta, B.C. doctor says

Dr. Bonnie Henry pleads for out-of-province travel to stop

Victoria’s Royal Jubilee Hospital took in two COVID-19 patients from Northern Health as part of a provincial agreement. (Black Press Media file photo)
Victoria hospital takes in two COVID-19 patients from Northern Health

Royal Jubilee Hospital takes patients as part of provincial transport network

B.C. Premier John Horgan on a conference call with religious leaders from his B.C. legislature office, Nov. 18, 2020, informing them in-person church services are off until further notice. (B.C. government)
B.C. tourism relief coming soon, Premier John Horgan says

Industry leaders to report on their urgent needs next week

An RCMP cruiser looks on as a military search and rescue helicopter winds down near Bridesville, B.C. Tuesday, Dec. 1. Photo courtesy of RCMP Cpl. Jesse O’Donaghey
B.C. Mountie, suspect airlifted by Canadian Armed Forces from ravine after foot chase

Military aircraft were dispatched from Comox, B.C., say RCMP

An 18-year old male southern resident killer whale, J34, is stranded near Sechelt in 2016. A postmortem examination suggests he died from trauma consistent with a vessel strike. (Photo supplied by Paul Cottrell, Fisheries and Oceans Canada)
“We can do better” — humans the leading cause of orca deaths: study

B.C. research reveals multitude of human and environmental threats affecting killer whales

A logo for Netflix on a remote control is seen in Portland, Ore.,Aug. 13, 2020. Experts in taxation and media say a plan announced Monday by the government will ultimately add to the cost of digital services and goods sold by foreign companies. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP-Jenny Kane
‘Netflix tax’ for digital media likely to raise prices for consumers, experts say

The government says Canadian companies already collect those taxes when they make digital sales

BIG SALMON ranch in Washington State. (Center for Whale Research handout)
Non-profit buys Chinook ranch in hopes of increasing feed for southern resident killer whales

The ranch, which borders both sides of Washington State’s Elwha River, is a hotspot for chinook salmon

Most Read