Duncan city council has denied an application for a temporary emergency shelter for women at 540 Cairnsmore St. 
(Robert Barron/Citizen)

Duncan city council has denied an application for a temporary emergency shelter for women at 540 Cairnsmore St. (Robert Barron/Citizen)

Duncan denies emergency shelter for women on Cairnsmore Street

Will look at a mobile shelter for women instead

Duncan’s city council has turned down an application for a temporary emergency shelter for women at 540 Cairnsmore St.

Staff had recommended council give a green light to establishing a 15-bed shelter, which would be run by the Cowichan Women Against Violence organization, at the site of the former Duncan Primary School at its meeting on Sept. 17.

RELATED STORY: WOMEN’S EMERGENCY SHELTER BEING CONSIDERED

But when no member of council moved the motion in the packed council chamber, Coun. Sharon Jackson moved a successful motion to deny the application.

An alternate motion was made, which passed, for the city to study the possibility of setting up a temporary and mobile emergency shelter for women in Duncan.

“It was a difficult and contentious meeting but, overall, the neighbours who were in attendance were compassionate and understanding of the need for an emergency shelter for women in Duncan,” Jackson said.

“But they don’t want it at the cost of the day cares and seniors homes in that area. The neighbours are already under siege from unwanted behaviour in their neighbourhood.”

Jackson was joined by councillors Roger Bruce and Tom Duncan in the motion to deny the application, Mayor Phil Kent voted against denying it, and councillors Michelle Bell and Michelle Staples recused themselves from the vote for perceived conflicts of interest.

Jackson said the study of a mobile shelter for women is now in the hands of the staff and she expects they will work diligently to find alternate solutions.

“They had better hurry because the next council meeting is in October and the rains of November are not far away after that,” she said.

Last year, an extreme weather shelter for women that was proposed by the United Way and the Cowichan Coalition for Homelessness and Affordable Housing, that was to be situated at the closed Charles Hoey School, was cancelled after School District 79, which owns the building, pulled its support after the plan faced a backlash from the neighbourhood.

RELATED STORY: WOMEN’S SHELTER NOT GOING AHEAD IN DUNCAN

At the time, Duncan council also made zoning amendments stating that homeless shelters are not allowed in residential areas unless council gives its approval first, and that any shelter should not be placed in a residential area without prior consultation with the neighbourhood.

Keith Simmonds, a minister at Duncan United Church and a member of the Cowichan Coalition to Address Homelessness and Affordable Housing, said he was “floored” by what he heard at the council meeting.

He said there was a lot of misinformation being spread by several audience members.

“One guy said he talked to officials at the Warmland shelter who said women aren’t afraid to seek the shelter’s services, and that’s not true in a lot of cases,” Simmonds said.

“Another said the bathrooms don’t work at the former school site, and another said the clients at the shelter would be dropped off at the same time as kids in the local daycare, and none of it is true.”

Simmonds said he’s grateful that the city is looking at alternatives and he wishes them luck, but he feels the community is no closer to dealing with its homeless and related issues.

“This is the second year in a row the city said no to an emergency shelter, and you can expect as winter comes that many people will turn up in sheds, porches and crawl spaces in an effort to stay warm and dry,” he said.

“Many in the audience at the council meeting said they don’t want these people in their neighbourhood, but by not dealing with the issue, they will actually be pushed into neighbourhoods seeking shelter wherever they can.”



robert.barron@cowichanvalleycitizen.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Lake Cowichan’s town hall is now locked. Members of the public can only enter by knocking or by phoning and making an appointment. (File photo)
$1.16-million in COVID cash granted to Lake Cowichan

Pandemic protocol locks town hall doors

The Downtown Duncan BIA had this 12-foot Christmas bulb assembled in Duncan's City Square as part of its modified Christmas kick-off celebrations this year. (Amanda Vance photo)
Business notes: Downtown Duncan BIA kicking off Christmas differently this year

Find out what’s happening in Cowichan’s business community

North Cowichan councillor Christopher Justice wants to see rare habitats protected in the municipality. (File photo)
North Cowichan wants rare ecosystems to be a priority in OCP

But some council members want public input into decision

The Chemainus Health Care Auxiliary is taking a pro-active approach and closing the thrift shop as a precautionary measure as of Saturday. (Photo by Don Bodger)
Chemainus Health Care Auxiliary Thrift Shop closing again as a precautionary measure

Second closure this year will last at least six weeks due to the COVID situation

The Santa’s Workshop fundraiser being put on by Camosun students on Dec. 5, 2020, will benefit Providence Farm. (Submitted)
Camosun students harness spirit holiday season with Providence Farm fundraiser

The next event, coming up on Dec. 5, is a virtual “Day in Santa’s Workshop”

Motorists wait to enter a Fraser Health COVID-19 testing facility, in Surrey, B.C., on Monday, Nov. 9, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Another 694 diagnosed with COVID-19 in B.C. Thursday

Three more health care outbreaks, 12 deaths

Lake Trail Middle School in Courtenay has closed again due to a threat Friday (Dec 4). File photo
Island middle school closed for the second time in a week due to threat

On Nov. 26, Lake Trail Middle School was closed for a day while a similar incident occurred.

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

Melissa David, of Parachutes for Pets and her dogs Hudson and Charlie are trying to raise money for a homeless shelter that will allow pets and are seen in Calgary, Alta., Thursday, Feb. 6, 2020.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh
‘My only wish:’ Children asking pet charity to help their furry friends at Christmas

Parachutes for Pets says it has received 14 letters from children in the last week t

Melissa Velden and her chef-husband Chris Velden, stand in their dining room at the Flying Apron Inn and Cookery in Summerville, N.S. on Friday, Nov. 20, 2020. The couple is hosting holiday parties with appropriate distancing and other COVID-19 health protocols in place at their restaurant. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Andrew Vaughan
Celebrities, Santa and Zoom part of office holiday parties being held amid COVID-19

Many will send tokens of appreciation to workers or offer time off or cash

A demonstrator wears representations of sea lice outside the Fisheries and Oceans Canada offices in downtown Vancouver Sept. 24, demanding more action on the Cohen Commission recommendations to protect wild Fraser River sockeye. (Quinn Bender photo)
First Nations renew call to revoke salmon farm licences

Leadership council implores use of precautionary principle in Discovery Islands

Ten-month-old Aidan Deschamps poses for a photo with his parents Amanda Sully and Adam Deschamps in this undated handout photo. Ten-month-old Aidan Deschamps was the first baby in Canada to be diagnosed with spinal muscular atrophy through Ontario’s newborn screening program. The test was added to the program six days before he was born. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO, Children’s Hospital Eastern Ontario *MANDATORY CREDIT*
First newborn tested for spinal muscular atrophy in Canada hits new milestones

‘If Aidan had been born any earlier or anywhere else our story would be quite different’

BC Ambulance Services reassures people that the service is well staffed and ready to respond. Photo by Don Bodger
BC Ambulance assures the Island community they’re ‘fully staffed’

‘Paramedics are not limited to a geographical area.’ — BCEHS

Most Read