Workers delivered the first wooden cabins last month to replace the tents at a tent site for people experiencing homelessness in the Cowichan Valley. (Black Press file photo)

Workers delivered the first wooden cabins last month to replace the tents at a tent site for people experiencing homelessness in the Cowichan Valley. (Black Press file photo)

City of Nanaimo looking at setting up tiny cabins for people experiencing homelessness

Council asks for staff report after learning about Cowichan’s emergency accommodation program

City council is interested in finding out whether sleeping cabins for people experiencing homelessness in Cowichan could be set up in Nanaimo, too.

Nanaimo city council, at a meeting Monday, voted unanimously to ask for a staff report on the possibility of setting up two or three pilot locations for temporary emergency accommodations, with information about potential costs, funding sources and partnerships.

Councillors Don Bonner and Erin Hemmens brought forward the motion following a recent meeting with John Horn, the City of Nanaimo’s former social planner who is now executive director of the Cowichan Housing Association. Eight-by-eight sleeping cabins were set up at two locations in Duncan last month.

Bonner said the cabins cost about $7,000 each, plus another $60,000 worth of amenities at each site.

“I view them as a transition between being homeless on the street and used to being outside all the time, to supportive housing that we’re presently building,” he said.

The cabins would have electricity hookups and there would be port-a-potties at the site. Cowichan provides meals to residents. Bonner noted that social service agencies can come and go and potentially build relationships and help connect individuals with services and more stable housing.

“I like it because it’s a finite number of people that are there, anywhere between 10 and 15 and that’s it,” Bonner said. “It’s also fenced on the outside and it’s also patrolled by security during the night so that only the people that are supposed to be there are allowed in.”

In Cowichan, the project includes federal, provincial, regional and non-governmental organization partners, but the City of Nanaimo would need to come up with its own funding model. Jake Rudolph, chief administrative officer, told councillors that the city doesn’t have the capacity to run a cabin site, with neither the staffing nor the expertise, and said staff will seek feedback from stakeholders including the health authority, B.C. Housing, service providers and RCMP.

“This thing would not work without a collection of all those entities collaborating [who are] being impacted by it and making it work,” Rudolph said.

Coun. Ian Thorpe expressed some hesitation around the motion, saying the wording suggested a commitment to implementing the program, but was reassured that no decision would be made until the staff report was presented.

“We’re just looking for information and that’s why we reference potential operators, potential funding sources, monthly operation costs,” said Hemmens. “We’re not looking for a set program, we’re looking for if we were to explore this, these are options in front of us. Our intention is not to lock us into anything.”

Bonner said the cabins are a little outside of the recommendations of the city’s health and housing task force, but said while those recommendations look at higher-level strategies and social service delivery, cabins are something that can be done “sooner than later.”

“Ideally we wouldn’t need them, we’d have enough housing, but in the event that we don’t, which is going to be for quite some time, I think these are a good fit,” he said.

READ ALSO: Nanaimo’s health and housing task force presents action plan to address homelessness

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

City HallHomelessness

Just Posted

A man holds a picture of Chantel Moore during a healing gathering at the B.C. Legislature in Victoria on June 18, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
‘Police have killed more Tla-o-qui-aht First Nation members than COVID’

First Nation demands transparency in probe into Tofino RCMP shooting of Julian Jones

The B.C. Supreme Court ruled Feb. 26 that the estate of deceased Sooke man and Hells Angels prospect Michael Widner is to be divided between his wife and his secret spouse. (Black Press Media file photo)
Estate of deceased Hells Angels prospect from Sooke to be divided between wife and secret spouse

Michael Widner’s 2017 death left a number of unanswered questions

Comox Valley-raised Shay Sandiford has earned a spot on the Canada skateboard team. Facebook
Vancouver Islander selected to Canada’s first-ever national skateboard team

Courtenay’s Shay Sandiford has his eye on qualifying for this summer’s Olympics in Tokyo

Tara Martin, head of the UBC Faculty of Forestry Conservation Decisions Lab, checks out some of the wildflowers that grow on SISCENEM, also known as Halibut Island located east off Sidney Island. Martin had brought the island to the attention of The Land Conservancy of British Columbia (TLC), which subsequently bought the island, then transferred ownership to WSANEC Leadership Council under a historic first. (Alex Harris/Submitted)
An Island of reconcilation: conservancy turns $1.55 million over to First Nation

SISȻENEM (Halibut Island), off Sidney, transfers to W̱SÁNEĆ Leadership Council under historic deal

B.C. Health Minister Adrian Dix and provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry head for the B.C. legislature press theatre to give a daily update on the COVID-19 pandemic, April 6, 2020. (B.C. government)
B.C. nears 300,000 COVID-19 vaccinations, essential workers next

564 new cases, four deaths, no new outbreaks Thursday

Nanaimo RCMP want to speak with two people who might have spoken with the driver of a vehicle before it hit a pedestrian at the 7-Eleven store at University Village Mall Feb. 3. (Photos submitted)
Nanaimo RCMP ask for help with hit-and-run investigation

Police release photos of people of interest who spoke to the suspect driver just prior to incident

BC Emergency Health Services confirmed that a call was received just before 10 a.m. Ground paramedics, as well as an air ambulance, are on the way to the area. (SUSAN QUINN/ Alberni Valley News)
BREAKING: Helicopter goes down on Bowen Island

Unclear how many passengers aboard and unclear where the helicopter was going

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry updates B.C. on the COVID-19 situation. (B.C. government)
Dr. Bonnie Henry predicts a ‘post-pandemic world’ for B.C. this summer

‘Extending this second dose provides very high real-world protection to more people, sooner’

Dr. Sandra Allison and Dr. Charmaine Enns joined school district senior staff for a virtual town hall meeting to address the latest COVID concerns in schools. Image, screenshot
No secondary cases in Comox Valley schools, say health officers

School district hosts virtual town hall to address recent COVID-19 cases in schools

Shiromali Krishnaraj arrives from India and receives a mandatory COVID-19 test at Pearson International Airport during the COVID-19 pandemic in Toronto on Monday, Feb. 1, 2021. B.C.’s approved rapid tests also use a nasal swab, with a machine to scan for COVID-19 antibodies. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
B.C.’s rapid COVID-19 tests have produced only two positive results

Tests deployed for exposures in schools, outbreaks in care homes, jails

Office vacancy rates are rising in Greater Victoria while the supply of industrial land is shrinking. (Black Press Media File)
Report finds supply of industrial land in Greater Victoria shrinking

Office vacancy rates in Greater Victoria continue to rise

It’s been almost a year since the last public performance inside the Chemainus Theatre. (Photo by Don Bodger)
Donors pledge $60,000 in matching campaign at Chemainus Theatre

Perrys, Hiltons and Duncan Iron Works help to Bridge the Gap during COVID shutdown

Most Read