Duncan City Hall. Sharon Vanhouwe, mycowichanvalleynow.com staff.
The motion to set up a mobile emergency women’s shelter was defeated by a vote of 4-1 at a recent Committee of the Whole meeting in Duncan.
Duncan Councillor Roger Bruce made the motion to set up the women’s shelter this winter and he said he knew it would be a tough sell, but he was hopeful the City would use an emergency shelter owned by the Town of Campbell River.
“Campbell River has successfully used a mobile shelter in their downtown core,” said Bruce. “For the last couple years, I’ve talked to Campbell River numerous times and brought it to Duncan council’s attention but could make no traction.”
Duncan Mayor Phil Kent says Campbell River may have used the mobile unit, but it would require significant work to serve the same purpose in the Cowichan Valley.
“They (Campbell River) may have used it for one year, maybe two and our staff followed up once they knew the notice of motion was coming, they followed up with Campbell River,” said Kent. “Although the unit is available, they said they would require substantial upgrades to be inhabitable.”
Bruce says a mobile unit isn’t a permanent fix, but it’s better than talking a good game with no follow through.
“It’s ok for us to say this is a provincial problem and a provincial issue, but eventually somebody has to step up and try to help,” said Bruce. “This would be an avenue that would allow women that are out in the cold to have somewhere warm, to get a good night sleep. It would not be a perfect solution, but it would be a step in the right direction.”
Kent says to upgrade the mobile unit to the point where people can actually live in it will cost up to $30,000 dollars and BC Housing won’t kick in any funding.
“Councillor Bruce asked council to support $10,000 and seek support from neighbouring jurisdictions to provide additional funding,” said Kent. “To even bring the unit up into an inhabitable status, it would have cost substantially more than that and BC Housing would not support mobile funding for a homeless shelter.”
This is the third strike for those who advocate for making an emergency women’s shelter a reality, as plans to use the old Charles Hoey School and the former BC Summer Games office were also voted down.
Bruce says he’s hoping North Cowichan has been monitoring this issue and can help.