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

Just Posted

Soaker hoses laid down over corn seedlings, soon to be covered with mulch, will see to the watering needs of the bed through any summer drought. (Mary Lowther photo)
Mary Lowther column: Investing in soaker hoses is money well-spent

No-till gardening has a distinct advantage during drought

Karl McPherson, left, and Mary Morrice are the new head coach and general manager, respectively, at the Duncan Dynamics Gymnastics Club. (Kevin Rothbauer/Citizen)
Manager charts a new course for Duncan Dynamics

More recreational programs to join competitive teams

Cute but fierce! Timber moonlights as an attack kitty. (Sarah Simpson/Citizen)
Sarah Simpson Column: Beware of Mr. Bite, the midnight attacker

Last week, in the middle of the night, I was awoken by… Continue reading

The province has come through with funding for Duncan Manor’s renewal project. (File photo)
Funding comes through for Duncan Manor’s renewal project

Money will come from the province’s Community Housing Fund

At an outdoor drive-in convocation ceremony, Mount Royal University bestows an honorary Doctor of Laws on Blackfoot Elder and residential school survivor Clarence Wolfleg in Calgary on Tuesday, June 8, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh
‘You didn’t get the best of me’: Residential school survivor gets honorary doctorate

Clarence Wolfleg receives honorary doctorate from Mount Royal University, the highest honour the school gives out

“They will never be forgotten, every child matters,” says Sioux Valley Chief Jennifer Bone in a video statement June 1. (Screen grab)
104 ‘potential graves’ detected at site of former residential school in Manitoba

Sioux Valley Dakota Nation working to identify, repatriate students buried near former Brandon residential school

The Queen Victoria statue at the B.C. legislature was splattered with what looks like red paint on Friday. (Nicole Crescenzi/News Staff)
Queen Victoria statue at B.C. legislature vandalized Friday

Statue splattered with red paint by old growth forest proponents

Police cars are seen parked outside Vancouver Police Department headquarters on Saturday, January 9, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Vancouver police officer charged with assault during an arrest in 2019

The service has released no other details about the allegations

Denmark’s Christian Eriksen receives medical attention after collapsing during the Euro 2020 soccer championship group B match between Denmark and Finland at Parken stadium in Copenhagen, Saturday, June 12, 2021. (AP Photo/Martin Meissner, Pool)
Christian Eriksen in stable condition, Euro 2020 match resumes

Eriksen was given chest compressions after collapsing on the field during a European Championship

Members of the Department of Fisheries and Oceans’ Marine Mammal Response Program rescued an adult humpback what that was entangled in commercial fishing gear in the waters off of Entrance Island on Thursday, June 10. (Photo courtesy Marine Mammal Response Program)
Rescuers free humpback ‘anchored’ down by prawn traps off Vancouver Island

Department of Fisheries and Oceans responders spend hours untangling whale

As stories of the horrors of residential schools circulate after the Tk’emlups te Secwepemc First Nation announced it had located what are believed to be the remains of 215 children, Grand Chief Stewart Phillip of the Union of B.C. Indian Chiefs said he feels a connection with the former students. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
2 sides of the same coin: Ex-foster kids identify with residential school survivors

Grand Chief Stewart Phillip says the child welfare system takes Indigenous children from their families

Nathan Watts, a member of the Tseshaht First Nation near Port Alberni, shares his story of substance use, a perspective he said isn’t seen enough. (Photo courtesy of Nathan Watts)
Public shaming, hate perpetuates further substance use: UVic researcher

Longtime addict Nathan Watts offers a user’s perspective on substance use

Most Read