Another 40 sleeping cabins for the homeless are proposed to be placed at a temporary site at 610 Trunk St. in the new year.
The Cowichan Housing Association, on behalf of the Cowichan COVID-19 Task Force for Vulnerable Population, has applied to the City of Duncan for a temporary-use permit for the site, which is owned by BC Housing, to provide a 24-hour housing and support service for up to 40 people in the small cabins from Jan. 15, 2022 to Sept. 30, 2022.
The proposed project, which would be called “It Takes a Village: Housing the Unsheltered Population of the Cowichan Valley”, would be operated by Lookout Housing and Health Society, which also runs the newly opened Health and Wellness Centre on York Road, and would be based on an established model of housing and support services already in use in Duncan and on Cowichan Tribes’ land.
There have been 71 people staying in sleeping cabins at a lot on St. Julien Street, a site on Government Street known as “The Mound” and a hotel that are being run by the CHA and the task force with support services provided during the COVID-19 pandemic, while supportive housing units are being constructed in the community and other accommodations are identified.
Funding for the new temporary housing project comes from a $2.5-million grant from the Safe Restart: Strengthening Communities’ Services funding program, a joint federal/provincial initiative.
Duncan Mayor Michelle Staples said the city is thankful that North Cowichan submitted the proposal for funding on behalf of the region and that the application was successful.
She said the next step is securing a suitable location for the village.
Staples said the Trunk Road site won’t be secured until council confirms it is comfortable with the location and the plans for it.
“These humble, temporary supported housing sleeping units will provide an additional level of wrap-around supports, services and safety compared to the current sites,” she said.
“For the broader community, housing and supporting people helps reduce the negative impacts the community is experiencing.”
In addition to the required public notifications that will be distributed by the City of Duncan as a part of the temporary-use permit application process leading up to council’s consideration of the project, the CHA has two digital town-hall sessions scheduled.
The CHA and their project partners have committed to engaging with neighbours and members of the public to hear concerns, provide information, and incorporate feedback where feasible.
Letters describing the project are being distributed to residents and businesses within a 100-metre radius of the property and all other members of the public are also encouraged to register for the town-hall sessions.
“The Cowichan Housing Association and all project partners recognize the importance of neighbourhood dialogue about the project and the services the initiative will provide to vulnerable unsheltered people in the community,” the CHA said in a release.
The two digital town-hall sessions will be held on Nov. 29, from 7 p.m. to 8 p.m., and on Nov. 30, from 1 p.m. to 2 p.m.
The same information will be presented at each session.
Anyone interested in attending one of the digital town halls must email firstname.lastname@example.org to request the Zoom link for the event.
Additional information about the project can be found at www.cowichanhousing.com/village.
North Cowichan Mayor Al Siebring said the municipality is pleased that a potentially suitable property has been found after much searching for a viable location that could support a project of this nature.
“I would like to thank the Cowichan Housing Association and Lookout Housing and Health Society for their continued efforts to provide people in need a place to call home by providing safe, temporary sleeping units and wraparound on-site support services,” he said.