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Proposal for mobile emergency shelter for women on city council agenda Monday

Expected to be discussed at City of Duncan’s council meeting on Monday

Another effort is expected to be made to set up an emergency shelter for women in Duncan.

Roger Bruce, a City of Duncan councillor, intends to make a notice of motion at the council meeting on Oct. 1 that would see Duncan move forward with a mobile shelter.

The motion will call for the city to check to see if it could borrow, rent or buy an extra mobile shelter that the Town of Campbell River has; allocate $10,000 towards the shelter if needed; and invite the Municipality of North Cowichan, the Cowichan Valley Regional District and Cowichan Tribes to help acquire the mobile shelter.

The motion also suggests that, with the permission of the Duncan United Church, the mobile shelter be located in the church’s parking lot and run by the church until a suitable location can be determined.

After facing opposition from many neighbours, Duncan’s city council turned down an application for a temporary emergency shelter for women at 540 Cairnsmore St., that would have been run by the Cowichan Women Against Violence organization, earlier this month.


Last year, an extreme weather shelter for women that was to be situated at the closed Charles Hoey School was also cancelled after School District 79, which owns the building, pulled its support after the plan faced a backlash from the neighbourhood.


Bruce, who voted against setting up a shelter on Cairnsmore Street, couldn’t be reached for comment.

But councillor Sharon Jackson, who also voted against the shelter on Cairnsmore Street, said the Town of Campbell River has already said no to supplying the area with a mobile shelter.

However, she said it’s possible that another mobile trailer to fit the need can still be acquired elsewhere.

Jackson also said she understands that the Municipality of North Cowichan and the Cowichan Valley Regional District are checking their land inventories to see if they can find a location for a shelter.

“The Duncan United Church could host a mobile shelter for women, but I would rather it be run by Cowichan Women Against Violence,” she said.

“I’m confident that we’ll have an emergency shelter for woman in place this winter.”

But Keith Simmonds, a minister at Duncan United Church and a member of the Cowichan Coalition to Address Homelessness and Affordable Housing, said the city has not approached the church about setting up a mobile shelter in the church’s parking lot.

“I think our governing board might want to be involved in this conversation,” Simmonds said.

“I have had some conversations with Roger Bruce and he’s convinced a mobile shelter would work in the area. But the church doesn’t have showers or other amenities that a shelter would require, so it would be better placed next to a fire hall or another facility with these things in place. The city has much more available space for this.”

Simmonds said the Duncan United Church is already doing as much as it can to assist the area’s vulnerable people.

He said more than 7,000 meals per year are served out of the church, donated clothing is provided when required and it helps the needy connect to other services.

“About a third of our budget goes to social justice programs,” Simmonds said.

“We’re already deeply engaged with these issues and we need the community to step up to help as well.”

But Simmonds said that it’s good that Bruce is trying to do something that the other council members would support, and that’s a step in the right direction.

“We’d be happy to talk to them about using the church’s parking lot, but we also have some thoughtful recommendations for other places to put the shelter,” he said.

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Robert Barron

About the Author: Robert Barron

Since 2016, I've had had the pleasure of working with our dedicated staff and community in the Cowichan Valley.
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