Sooke’s homeless have relocated to Ed Macgregor Park following the closure of the temporary shelter at SEAPARC. (Kevin Laird - Sooke News Mirror)

Sooke’s homeless displaced to Ed Macgregor park

Temporary homeless shelter at SEAPARC closed July 22

After the temporary shelter at SEAPARC Leisure Complex closed, some of Sooke’s homeless have relocated to Ed Macgregor Park.

The temporary shelter was vacated on Monday due to SEAPARC hosting youth camps starting June 29.

Fourteen people have moved to Ed Macgregor, and it’s unclear how long they will stay. Sooke mayor Maja Tait says the situation is not ideal, but there aren’t many choices around for the homeless population to go.

“The challenge is that BC Housing won’t fund any outdoor camp, so there is no support for anything outside,” said Tait. “There is some wrap around support being provided from volunteers until the end of June, but after that it runs out.”

Ed MacGregor park at least has running water and washrooms for the residents to use, said Tait.

As there aren’t many options for affordable housing units the area, the District of Sooke, along with other community groups, are working to find a solution.

“We are continuing to explore every option, but right now we don’t have the funding capacity to meet those needs,” said Tait. “Setting up in Ed MacGregor park doesn’t work for anyone, but it is the only accessible park in the community.”

The Sooke Region Communities Health Network, in collaboration with B.C. Housing, regional health authorities and municipal governments, have been looking to find possible temporary housing sites and funding to support the homeless population moving forward.

“Part of embracing the new normal during the pandemic is thinking outside the box, forging new relationships with community partners and finding solutions that work for everyone,” said Tait in a press release. “In Sooke, we have big hearts and we take care of our own. When we see unhoused members in a park we step in to find a better way.”

ALSO READ: Sooke temporary homeless shelter packs up early

Securing a new sight would allow the Sooke Region Communities Health Network to continue providing on-site support, as they were previously providing at SEAPARC.

“I sincerely thank SEAPARC for stepping up in April to help us take care of our vulnerable neighbors who had no place to go when COVID-19 hit,” said Tait. “ It was always intended as a transitional stabilization unit, and we now have to find a longer-term solution that will help bridge us to the opening of 49 shelter rate housing units that will be available in the next 12-18 months.”

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