About seven homeless folks are still utilizing the Fuller Lake Arena parking lot tenting site. (Photo by Don Bodger)

Extension given for Cowichan region homeless tenting sites

Meeting with BC Housing to determine the next step

The June 30 deadline for the dismantling of five temporary homeless tenting sites in the Cowichan region has come and gone, but they remain in place.

“We’ve negotiated a two-week extension with BC Housing,” said John Horn, co-chair of the COVID-19 Vulnerable Population Cowichan Task Force.

A meeting was going to be scheduled next week, he added, to determine what the options are for continuing to run the sites. No clear plan had been formulated about the transition to other housing for the homeless currently being accommodated before the day they were supposed to vacate.

“People need a little more notice than what you’re giving us,” Horn indicated.

The sites are located at the Fuller Lake Arena parking lot in Chemainus, Buller Street in Ladysmith and three in Duncan on St. Julien Street, Government Street and behind the Cowichan Community Centre.

Related: Here’s where tenting sites for the homeless will be set up in Cowichan

One occupant at each of the Fuller Lake and Government Street locations has died since the May 20 start-ups.

The Fuller Lake site was down to five persons staying there at one point, but was back up to seven in the last week.

“It seems pretty quiet to me,” Horn reported.

In the Duncan area, “the merchants and the residents are commenting it’s a lot quieter – where did all the people go?” he added.

Horns claims the homeless having a place to “hang out” has prevented them from camping on the doorsteps of businesses, churches and other establishments.

It remains to be seen what will be decided for extending the homeless sites and what it will take to do that monetarily.

Evaluations will be done with neighbours to find out what it’s been like for them. Horn feels having security and a bit of structure has been beneficial for those being provided with the temporary housing.

“If you don’t have these (rules) in place, people make up their own,” he indicated.

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