This lot on White Road in Duncan will be the site of a new supportive housing development. A similar facility will be built on Drinkwater Road in North Cowichan. (Kevin Rothbauer/Citizen)

This lot on White Road in Duncan will be the site of a new supportive housing development. A similar facility will be built on Drinkwater Road in North Cowichan. (Kevin Rothbauer/Citizen)

100 supportive housing units to be built in Duncan, N. Cowichan

‘We have the track record that this works’

Construction is expected to begin this fall on approximately 100 supportive housing units for people experiencing or at risk of homelessness in the Cowichan Valley.

BC Housing has acquired two sites — 2983 Drinkwater Rd. in North Cowichan and 260 White Rd. in Duncan — to develop what the agency describes as “safe, secure housing with wraparound supports.”

Both facilities will consist of about 50 self-contained studio units. Residents will be provided with 24-hour on-site staff and support services, including meal programs, life and employment skills training, health and wellness services, and opportunities for volunteer work. Residents will be required to pay rent.

“I am pleased to see these projects move forward in our respective communities,” North Cowichan Mayor Al Siebring said. “I have been a long-time proponent of permanent housing solutions with much-needed wraparound services. These units will help address homelessness both in North Cowichan and in the Cowichan Valley while giving our most vulnerable populations access to vital services.”

Although BC Housing has the right to build where they want, regardless of zoning bylaws, both municipal councils were aware of the plans, and helped conduct research to determine the best locations for the facilities.

“We were the ones that actually identified the sites to them and said they might work,” Siebring explained. “They went out and bought them.”

The provine purchased the Drinkwater Road site for $976,185 and the White Road site for $663,730 with money from the Supportive Housing Fund.

As with North Cowichan council, the government of Duncan is also supportive of the plans.

“Duncan city council has identified working to address the homelessness and opioid crisis as top priorities for this term,” Duncan Mayor Michelle Staples said. “Service providers and health-care professionals have been asking for supportive housing with wraparound services, including treatment options and safe supply, for many years. These projects are yet another example of what becomes possible when we define a goal, commit to action and work together as local and provincial governments to meet the needs in our communities.”

The NDP provincial government and the Green Party caucus have identified affordable housing as a priority, and both area MLAs voiced their support for the new housing.

“The need for safe, secure housing has never been more important,” said Nanaimo-North Cowichan NDP MLA Doug Routley. “We’re taking urgent action with our partners to provide these homes for people in the Cowichan Valley because when people have housing and supports, it’s good for everyone in the community.”

“Permanent housing for all citizens is essential for healthy individuals, healthy communities and healthy societies,” said Cowichan Valley Green Party MLA Sonia Furstenau. “This investment in Cowichan comes as a result of the government responding to the united calls from local housing advocates, health-care providers and leaders in our community.”

Cowichan Tribes Chief William Seymour also expressed his support.

“I’m pleased to be working with our neighboring communities to address the homelessness or those at risk of becoming homeless,” he said. “This gives them an opportunity to have a safe and secure home, especially during this pandemic era. This is a much-needed resource in the Cowichan community.”

BC Housing says it will set up committees in both municipalities to oversee integration of the supportive housing within the community and address concerns raised as the projects move forward. The committees will be established prior to the housing opening.

That kind of consultation with the community and its role in the success of a similar development in Parksville are part of the reason Siebring supports the Drinkwater Road venture.

When BC Housing first proposed the site in Parksville, the community was “up in arms,” Siebring explained, but BC Housing offered to have weekly consultation meetings with area residents. Those weekly meetings became monthly, and are now quarterly, “because the support systems work.”

Governments in the Cowichan Valley have made it a priority to learn lessons from the failures and successes of other communities, Siebring noted, and developments like these have a positive history.

“We have the track record that this works,” Siebring said.

BC Housing will reach out to the community with more options for engagement over the next few weeks. To find out more about the projects, ask questions and provide input, community members can connect with BC Housing here at letstalkhousingbc.ca

affordable housing

Just Posted

A nurse gets a swab ready to perform a test on a patient at a drive-in COVID-19 clinic in Montreal, on Wednesday, October 21, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Paul Chiasson
Island’s daily COVID-19 case count drops below 10 for just the second time in 2021

Province reports 8 new COVID-19 cases on Vancouver Island Wednesday

Island Health’s new Wellness and Recovery Centre at 5878 York Rd. is now planned to be open in the fall. (File photo)
Wellness and Recovery Centre now to open in the fall

Three community dialogues scheduled for May

Before you take on a pet, make sure you want to have it for life. (Sarah Simpson/Citizen)
Editorial: A pet is a lifetime commitment

Tons of people are getting pets during the pandemic, some for the first time

Over 60 Indigenous youth from Qualicum to Malahat are participating in the Step Up Work Placement Program. (Submitted photo)
New Mid-Island Indigenous youth work placement program seeks employer partners

So far, more than 60 youth from Qualicum Beach to the Malahat are participating in the program

Sign of the times: this property on View Street in Chemainus that exp Realty’s Debbie Simmonds had listed at $599,000 sold for $650,000. (Photo by Don Bodger)
Real estate market continues to soar in the Chemainus area

Multiple offers on properties common, leading to sales above listing prices

Prince Rupert was one of the first B.C. communities targeted for mass vaccination after a steep rise in infections. Grey area marks community-wide vaccine distribution. (B.C. Centre for Disease Control)
B.C. tracks big drop in COVID-19 infections after vaccination

Prince Rupert, Indigenous communities show improvement

Canada’s demo Hornet soars over the Strait of Georgia near Comox. The F-18 demo team is returning to the Valley for their annual spring training. Photo by Sgt. Robert Bottrill/DND
F-18 flight demo team returning to Vancouver Island for spring training

The team will be in the Comox Valley area from May 16 to 24

Saanich police and a coroner investigated a fatal crash in the 5200-block of West Saanich Road on Feb. 4, 2021. (Devon Bidal/News Staff)
Police determine speed, impairment not factors in fatal Greater Victoria crash

Driver who died veered across centre line into oncoming traffic for unknown reason, police say

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Ladysmith RCMP safely escorted the black bear to the woods near Ladysmith Cemetary. (Town of Ladysmith/Facebook photo)
Bow-legged bear returns to Ladysmith, has an appointment with the vet

Brown Drive Park closed as conservation officers search for her after she returned from relocation

Brian Peach rescues ducklings from a storm drain in Smithers May 12. (Lauren L’Orsa video screen shot)
VIDEO: Smithers neighbours rescue ducklings from storm drain

Momma and babies made it safely back to the creek that runs behind Turner Way

Signage for ICBC, the Insurance Corporation of British Columbia, is shown in Victoria, B.C., on February 6, 2018. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
$150 refunds issued to eligible customers following ICBC’s switch to ‘enhanced care’

Savings amassed from the insurance policy change will lead to one-time rebates for close to 4 million customers

Pixabay
Island Health: two doctors, new clinic space to avert Port McNeill health crisis

Island Health has leased space to use as an immediate clinic location to avert health crisis

Police investigate a fatal 2011 shooting in a strip mall across from Central City Shopping Centre, which was deemed a gang hit. The Mayor’s Gang Task Force zeroed in on ways to reduce gang involvement and activity. (File photo)
COVID-19 could be a cause in public nature of B.C. gang violence: expert

Martin Bouchard says the pandemic has changed people’s routines and they aren’t getting out of their homes often, which could play a role in the brazen nature of shootings

Most Read