LRCA staff and camp tenants pose for a photo by their community garden on the last day of the encampment (Cole Schisler photo)

Ladysmith self-isolation site for homeless dismantled

Tent site site cleared to meet the Sept. 30 deadline to close

The self-isolation site for Ladysmith’s homeless population was dismantled on Sept. 30.

The site was set up in partnership with BC Housing and the Cowichan Housing Association, (CHA) to reduce the risk of COVID-19 transmission among homeless people in the Cowichan Valley. Originally, the camp was scheduled to close on July 30, however the deadline was extended.

“Permission to use the land was based on a time frame, and that time frame has come to an end,” CHA executive director, John Horn said. “The land is going to be used for other purposes by the municipality… essentially, the decision was made to no longer make this site available for this purpose.”

RELATED: New self-isolation site for homeless to be set-up on Buller Street

Horn said that only one other site, which is operated by the Cowichan Violence Against Women Society in Duncan, is closing. The encampment at Fuller Lake Arena was closed previously due to low usage.

CHA will continue to operate their sites in Duncan, and will be opening a new site for youth. If there was an opening at a site in Duncan, residents of the Ladysmith encampment may be able to relocate to Duncan, provided that it was a good fit for all involved.

“We understand that peoples homes are their homes. If you’re from Ladysmith, Duncan is not really home. We do try to accomodate people in their home towns and create something for them here,” Horn said.

Late on Wednesday, the LRCA and BC Housing reached an agreement to open the Cold Weather Shelter for the next 30 days. This will give the LRCA time to develop a long term solution for clients.

Everyone who was staying at the encampment is now staying at the LRCA shelter, or the Warmland shelter in Duncan. Some residents have been relocated to a stable housing situation in Nanaimo.

LRCA executive director, Marsh Stevens said that a core population of about five to eight individuals in Ladysmith remain without housing.

“Our issue with homeless and precarious housing in Ladysmith is relatively small,” he said.

Stevens said that operating the self-isolation site was an ‘experiment gone right’, and is hopeful that there will be future endeavours house Ladysmith’s homeless population.

“We have provided a stable location and stable housing. Because of that, we’re seeing some successes that we wouldn’t have seen in just the Shelter model that we run,” he said.

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