Modular homes in the Cowichan Valley could help deal with some of the local homelessness issues, says Al Siebring.
Siebring, mayor of North Cowichan, said he recently visited the almost-completed 52 new units of government-financed modular housing for the homeless that is being constructed in Parksville and saw the project’s potential for the Cowichan area.
“We’d consider having such a project here if we could find the land to put it on,” he said.
“The municipality has been working with the City of Duncan since the election (in October) to find some land in the area that works. It needs to be somewhere fairly central, preferable between Beverly Street and the Cowichan River, so it can be close to services. A community like Crofton would be too far away.”
The 34,930-square-foot building made out of modular units in Parksville is one of the first in B.C. to win municipal approval under the province’s rapid-response-to-homelessness program.
This project is part of the province’s plan to develop 4,500 modular housing units in projects around the province to help those who are homeless or at risk of becoming homeless.
The province has committed $6.9 million to the Parksville project and the Regional District of Nanaimo has put in $660,000.
The three-storey building has 52 housing units, consisting of 38 studio apartments and 14 one-bedroom units, plus another three shelter units.
There will be common areas for dining and food preparation.
While Siebring said such a government-sponsored project would be helpful in the Cowichan Valley, and the government has expressed interest in setting one up here, properties that have been investigated for it so far are either too big, too expensive or the location is not right.
“No matter where we propose to place such a project, we will face opposition because people are concerned about their property values and other issues,” he said.
“I recently spoke at a meeting of the Duncan Cowichan Chamber of Commerce explaining that we need low-barrier housing and said that some people in this room will say they don’t want it next to them. But a low-barrier housing project has to go somewhere in the Valley. ”
A survey released last year indicated that there were more than 100 people reported to be “absolutely homeless” in the Valley at the time.