The City of Duncan wants to see “The Village” model for transitional housing that is in place at 610 Trunk Rd. replicated in other communities across B.C.
At its meeting on June 5, council passed a motion that the city submit a late resolution to the Union of B.C. Municipalities for consideration at its next convention in September urging the province to implement the transitional housing model as part of B.C.’s supportive-housing strategy, and provide a mechanism for this model to receive continued funding from BC Housing.
Sonia Furstenau, leader of the BC Greens and Cowichan Valley MLA, also called on the province last month to immediately adopt a provincial strategy for transitional housing needs modelled after The Village.
The Village, which is owned by BC Housing and operated by Lookout Housing and Health Society, currently has 34 modular sleeping cabins for people in transition from homelessness, and wraparound services are provided 24 hours a day.
In May, the City of Duncan renewed a temporary use permit for The Village, which has been in operation on Trunk Road since December, 2021, for a further 18 months.
A staff report by Paige MacWilliam, the city’s director of corporate services, said communities across British Columbia are constantly seeking new and innovative ways to provide the range of housing options that citizens need across the housing continuum, and that The Village is a model that successfully supports housing citizens struggling with mental health and addiction challenges.
She said that since The Village began operations, it has successfully met the basic housing needs of some of the unsheltered population in the Duncan area, many of whom would not have transitioned well into a traditional supportive housing building with individual kitchen and washroom facilities in each unit.
“The establishment of The Village has not led to an increase in adverse impacts within the neighbourhood; it has resulted in a decrease in impacts,” she said.
“Furthermore, the support services and opportunities offered onsite and in the neighbourhood have made a positive impact on the residents and the community, including improved physical and mental well-being, peer outreach, neighbourhood monitoring, improved sanitation, street clean-up, and incident response.”
MacWilliam said The Village has also prepared some residents for transition to other forms of housing.
She said the success of this initiative has led to the Cowichan Housing Association seeking out a permanent location to accommodate this model of housing in the region for when the temporary use permit expires in less than 18 months.
As well, MacWilliam pointed out that the costs of running the Village are lower than the operating costs for traditional supportive housing buildings.
“The Village model can also be implemented much quicker than traditional supportive housing units to help address the growing and acute crisis in many communities across the province,” she said.
But when council was determining the wording of the resolution to be brought to the UBCM, Coun. Garry Bruce said that while he believes The Village in Duncan is being run well, there should be a warning to other B.C. jurisdictions that there could be some push back from the communities where models of The Village are planned.
Coun. Jenni Capps said any jurisdiction looking to implement such a model would be well aware that there may be some concerns from the community.
She said if models of The Village are established in other areas with good staff and operation managers and people who are able to work with the community and address any concerns raised like the one in Duncan, there should be few problems.