A temporary emergency shelter for women is being considered at 540 Cairnsmore St. in Duncan.
Staff at the City of Duncan are recommending that council give a green light to establishing the 15-bed shelter at the site of the former Duncan Primary School at the next council meeting on Sept. 17.
The shelter would only be in operation from November to March.
The recommendation is being made after the Cowichan Women Against Violence organization began an application process for the shelter with the city last spring.
But staff are also recommending that approval only be given as long as the shelter agrees to operate under strict guidelines.
These include that adequate staff and security must be present during its hours of operation, a security plan be submitted to the RCMP, no drugs or alcohol are allowed on the premises, and outdoor activity and intake areas must be landscaped and/or screened from public view and from the view of adjacent properties.
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.
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.
A staff report stated that the city had sent out public notification of the proposal for Cairnsmore Street to nearby neighbours and provided notice in the newspaper for two consecutive weeks, as well as putting information on the City’s website.
Cowichan Women Against Violence has also conducted a public consultation process.
The report said feedback from the public includes concerns around public loitering, drug and alcohol use in the neighbourhood, domestic violence, litter and crime.
The report stated that those engaged in the Cairnsmore community are likely aware of the social concerns that already exist in the neighbourhood.
It said setting up an emergency shelter could be used as a tool for increased management of the issues that the neighbourhood is already facing.
“There is an opportunity to learn about and monitor some of these concerns,” the report states.
“In addition, there is an opportunity to provide an increased level of community engagement, put more eyes on the street, and provide additional support programs to address the existing challenges in the neighbourhood.”
Mayor Phil Kent said the process is different from last year in that council has developed a process to ensure the public has input into any decisions that are made on the placement of emergency shelters.
“I imagine that we’ll hear many points of view on this issue at Monday’s council meeting,” he said.
The meeting begins at 6 p.m.