An emergency shelter for women is once again on the table as the temperatures begin to drop in the Cowichan Valley.
We hope that this latest proposal will finally go through and not be scuttled by a “not in my backyard” attitude.
As the mercury dropped below 0 C Sunday night, we were all given a reminder that winter, indeed, will not be skipping the Warmland, and that for some people that means looking longingly at a warm place to sleep, while they huddle in whatever meagre shelter from the elements they can find.
Cowichan Women Against Violence has been looking for a home for an emergency weather shelter strictly for women for more than a year. Each time a place is proposed, neighbours get up in arms and shut the idea down. Some argue that Warmland House, the existing homeless shelter on Beverly Street, is there for them already. Proponents for the women’s shelter point out that Warmland House is dominated by male users, and some women are too fearful because of past trauma to be able to stay there.
But now a location, behind the Island Savings Centre, outside the boundaries of the City of Duncan, has been proposed. It’s a spot with no residential neighbours to be upset. The only thing in the immediate area is Wendy’s House, a preschool activity centre. There would be no overlapping hours between the two facilities, and CWAV has already agreed that staff will remove any trash (what people are concerned about is needles and other drug paraphernalia) in the area. We bet Wendy’s House is already doing regular checks in any case.
This is about as perfect a spot as we’re ever going to be presented with.
The Municipality of North Cowichan must still give their approval for the emergency shelter to proceed. They have a proposal for a public meeting before them at their Wednesday council meeting. It seems a no-brainer for that, at least will gain approval.
We need to show some compassion for the people who are in desperate need of this shelter. It is our hope that is what will come out at the public meeting.