Nanaimo city council, at a meeting Monday, voted to write a letter to the province expressing interest in being a site for a navigation centre for people experiencing homelessness. (News Bulletin file photo)

Nanaimo pushes to host supportive shelter hub for the homeless

Provincial government looking for Vancouver Island location for 60-bed navigation centre

Nanaimo city council doesn’t want to miss a chance to be considered for $4.5 million in funding for a supportive shelter for those experiencing homelessness.

Council, at a meeting Monday, voted 7-2 to write a letter to the province expressing interest in being a site for a navigation centre.

B.C. Housing announced last month a project to launch one such centre in Vancouver, and said it wants another one on Vancouver Island. A City of Nanaimo staff report says the provincial government would proved $1.5 million per year for three years to lease space and fund up to 60 shelter beds including arranging health supports.

“It is anticipated that with a strong referral process and staffing model, the impact of the centre will be more comparable with that of a supportive housing development or [a] bridge-to-housing shelter model rather than a more typical overnight homeless shelter,” noted the report.

Coun. Don Bonner said the difference between a navigation centre and an overnight shelter is the integrated health supports and he said he’s convinced B.C. Housing and Island Health would want a navigation centre to be successful.

Coun. Zeni Maartman also spoke in favour, saying it’s an opportunity for the city to try to help 60 hard-to-house people.

“I think of some of the people that I see every day pushing their shopping cars, not cohesive, have major, major problems and this may be one step towards that solution to which we get countless e-mails and phone calls from people who are afraid and tired of our city,” she said.

Coun. Tyler Brown said he’s hopeful Nanaimo will be selected to host a navigation centre, even though he knows it would be a challenge to site such a facility.

“I think our community is in great need and we can’t always say that we want resources and then if they come to us, say, actually, we don’t want those ones,” he said.

The city staff report noted that there is need for additional shelter space and wraparound supports in Nanaimo and pointed to this past winter’s count of people experiencing homelessness which added up to 425 people, a 25 per cent increase from two years prior. The report noted that most of the permanent supportive housing in the works will replace existing temporary supportive housing.

READ ALSO: Count in Nanaimo indicates 25 per cent increase in homelessness

The options listed in the staff report were to write to the Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing to express an interest in hosting a navigation centre, refer the idea to the health and housing task force, or take no action. Mayor Leonard Krog suggested it’s worthwhile to write to the ministry and further the conversation.

“If properly run, the worst-case scenario as I see it – depending on location, which will be decided a long ways down the road – [is the navigation centre] may in fact lead to a detriment to the neighbourhood in which it’s located, and we’ll face that problem if and when it comes,” he said.

The two votes in opposition came from councillors Sheryl Armstrong and Ian Thorpe. Armstrong said she thinks the navigation centre would resemble temporary supportive housing and the “exact same thing” would happen, with the centre attracting drug activity.

Thorpe said he senses that the city has a sort of “supportive housing fatigue” right now.

“We’ve got enough challenges facing us to get the proposed buildings up and running and satisfying the concerns of the neighbourhoods where they will be located,” he said.

The staff report notes that the city would not be asked to contribute financially to the navigation centre, but suggested that providing a space or contributing to capital improvements to a space would be seen as a sign of commitment to making the project work.

For more news from Vancouver Island and beyond delivered daily into your inbox, please click here.

READ ALSO: Nanaimo taking inventory of health, housing, homelessness services



editor@nanaimobulletin.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Homelessness

Just Posted

Victoria Humane Society takes revenue hit after donation bins vandalized

Organization removes clothing donation bins after contents removed, scattered

South Island Transportation Strategy looks to reduce reliance on personal vehicles

EV charging stations, bike lockers, new park-and-ride stalls among solutions in Capital Region

Vancouver Island police officers sporting personalized face masks

Masks for Central Saanich officers will feature the crest and individual officer pin numbers

Victoria police seek suspects in series of bear spray attacks

Police responded to several calls Saturday evening

COLUMN: COVID-19 statistics are the stories of people

This pandemic is ultimately about people, not just about numbers

Weekend sees 267 cases, 3 deaths in B.C.; Dr. Henry says events leading to COVID spread

There are currently 1,302 active cases in B.C., while 3,372 people are under public health monitoring

RCMP investigating after tires slashed in Port Alberni neighbourhood

RCMP are looking for anyone with information or video surveillance

West Shore RCMP arrives just in time thanks to tip

Officers remind of resources after mental health call Monday morning

Driver faces charges after Greater Victoria crash

Lanes closed Monday afternoon, one person taken to hospital

Man arrested after speeding to Victoria court date for driving offence

West Shore RCMP remind drivers to be mindful of construction zones

Canada’s population tops 38 million, even as COVID-19 pandemic slows growth

Immigration, the top population driver, decreased due to the pandemic

Cook Street Village grocery icon closing, new owners plan major renovation

Louie family has operated Oxford Foods and predecessor for five decades at Cook and Oxford streets

Transformative ‘Centre of Hope’ coming to Port Hardy

With the new building, the Salvation Army will be able to run the shelter year long.

Alberni Valley Tyee Club announces ladder board winners for 2020

The overall winner was Morgan Steed with a 31.8-pounder from Whittlestone Point

Most Read