Old Rona building housing for homeless?
Having read Robert Barron’s column on homeless issues and the editorial suggesting housing first, then Joe Sawchuk on Rona building availability and Al Siebring, mayor North Cowichan’s reply to Rona suggestion. What about (using Sawchuk’s data) using the vacant Rona buildings on the 6.1 acres with 66,000 square feet floor space, fenced and outbuildings, for sale at $9,893,000, as the housing option for our homeless situation?
Siebring has noted why it doesn’t work for a new RCMP site. Would it be cost effective to look at this as a low barrier housing complex in one or more areas of this site? The buildings look tall enough to have a remodel to create an additional floor or two inside the existing structures. Surely bachelor suites could be made on these created levels. There must have been a lunch room, so kitchens should not be an issue. There had to be some washroom facilities, which would need to be expanded upon. I suggest this, as the homelessness issue is increasing, and the size of this complex could allow for separation of male, female, couple, family, pets and accommodate all in a suitable space, secure with perimeter fencing, controlled access points and storage areas.
Wasn’t Warmland House in the millions of dollars build cost, and was too small from the beginning, and always full? Maybe this 6.1 acres would allow for some breathing room. Parking lots may need to be dug up, should additional space be required, but at least it’s there. There might be enough space for detox, rehab admissions on site, as well as other professional services that may be required. It should even stop the cycle of requesting donations of camping equipment, sleeping bags, food, clothing that ends up being abandoned, thrown into dumpsters, as only so much can be carried/rescued when being evicted from neighbourhoods. It could be the beginning of stability, we are paying for the issue one way or the other now. I would prefer that it be a more concrete/physical attempt. Buses run nearby and not too far of a stretch to walk into town. Zoning might be an issue; if not this site, do we have an Official Community Plan, that shows where we are zoned for a homeless shelter and/or low barrier housing? Change the zoning to accommodate the need?
Karen A. Chaster