The recent decision from North Cowichan council to issue a temporary use permit for a women’s winter warming shelter has placed the homelessness issue under the microscope.

While the Cowichan Women Against Violence Society is going to use the old concession building off University Way for a shelter, more and more people are homeless and looking for support services.

The Executive Director of the United Way for central and northern Vancouver Island Signy Madden said the number of homeless people continues a sharp climb, especially in Nanaimo.

“It’s doubled in 18 months, we know in Cowichan, that reports from the agencies we fund, the food bank and the Cowichan Basket Society, and others that there’s a 30, 40, 50 per cent increase in clients that are homeless,” said Madden.

Madden said a number of United Way clients are reporting increases of more than 30 per cent, when it comes to people using food banks and other support services and those ‘at-risk’ populations need to go somewhere.

“People are concerned about their neighbourhood and they’re concerned about what services are popping up around the community,” said Madden. “Not embracing either warming centres or drop-in centres is not going to solve the problem in our community.”

Duncan council defeated three motions to set up warming centres in that community.