Signy Madden, executive director of the United Way Central and Northern Vancouver Island, said the search will go on for a location for an extreme weather shelter for women in the Valley. (File photo)

Search continues for location for women’s shelter

Charles Hoey school no longer an option

The search will continue for a location for an extreme weather shelter for women in the Cowichan Valley.

Signy Madden, executive director of the United Way Central and Northern Vancouver Island, said BC Housing is still interested in providing the funding for the shelter this winter if an alternative location is found.

She said the Cowichan Coalition for Homelessness and Affordable Housing is looking for another location after the option of using the closed Charles Hoey School in Duncan for a shelter was taken away.

Madden said an alternative site has yet to be identified, but it likely won’t be in Duncan.

“There are still some cold months ahead of us this winter and we have a key interest in helping people on the streets,” she said.

“But we’ve learned some lessons from our efforts to place the shelter in the school. Communication with the neighbourhood where it will be placed is key. If people have issues with the shelter, then we would address those concerns earlier in the process.”

Plans to use Charles Hoey school for the shelter were scuttled after the City of Duncan changed its zoning bylaws at a special council meeting on Jan. 16 to state that homeless shelters are not allowed in residential areas.

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The city was responding to a backlash from the neighbourhood about the shelter proposal for the school.

Many of the neighbours had also expressed concerns about an earlier, but abandoned, effort to set up a daytime warming centre for the homeless in McAdam Park, which is adjacent to Charles Hoey school.

Signy said whatever location is chosen for the shelter, the public should be aware that it would only serve a small number of people, it would only be open for a short time period, from February to the end of March, and it will only be open when there is extreme weather and not every night.

She said the coalition didn’t meet with the neighbours of Charles Hoey school before news of the shelter was made public because the funding wasn’t in place at that time.

“We had planned to host a meeting with the neighbours when the funding was finally secured,” Madden said.

“There are people living on the streets during the winter and we were moving quickly to try to deal with that. But we’ve learned our lesson. We have many other initiatives planned for the Cowichan Valley and we will address any concerns with them.”



robert.barron@cowichanvalleycitizen.com

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