Work is underway to get the women’s winter warming centre ready.

The shelter will be open from 5 pm to 9 am until March 31 and now that North Cowichan council gave this shelter the go-ahead, Cowichan Women Against Violence Society staff are working to prepare the old concession building with cots, undertake minor renovations, and process all the donations.

The Executive Director of the society Debbie Berg said there is a strategy to eliminate at-risk populations from loitering around the shelter.

“One of the things I did at the other shelter (I worked at), I had a strict rule, if you were caught hanging out around the place, off hours, you would lose your bed for the night,” said Berg. “Within two days, we didn’t have a problem. I’m assuming human nature as it is, it will be the same here.”

North Cowichan Mayor Al Siebring said this permit can be pulled if the conditions aren’t met.

“We have a provision in there that says this temporary use permit is good for three years, but council can pull that temporary use permit at any time if we see deleterious effects that are not being dealt with under the terms of the lease agreement between the school district and the tenants.”

Berg said, “I’m very strict on policy, ‘policy with dignity,’ that’s what we’re looking at. We certainly want to provide dignity, but we also want to have good, safety rules for each of the women. When a woman knows other women can’t harm them, they feel safe. You have to have a certain amount of really good boundaries to keep everybody safe.”

While Duncan council voted against a shelter three times, Siebring said the dynamics were very different in the two communities.

“The only thing that was at play here, in terms of the physical location, was the daycare next door. We had support from the daycare itself, although some parents (about 40 of them) did sign a petition against it,” said Siebring. “The reality is that this location was completely different than the locations that the City of Duncan and council there had considered.”

The Cowichan Valley School District owns the building and the Cowichan Women Against Violence Society will run it.

Berg said discussions are already underway to find a more permanent solution for women in need.

The shelter will provide 15 beds.