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Forum explores future of emergency shelter

The end of last winter’s extreme weather emergency shelter program involving a converted shipping container has left a void in services to the homeless in Campbell River. - Photo submitted
The end of last winter’s extreme weather emergency shelter program involving a converted shipping container has left a void in services to the homeless in Campbell River.
— image credit: Photo submitted

Creating an easily-accessed shelter for the homeless is the subect of a public forum next week.

“In the months to come we hope to identify potential opportunities to meet the needs of homelessness in our community,” said Sean Junglas, Community Ministries Director for The Salvation Army.

The Campbell River Homeless Coalition and The Salvation Army have joined together to explore reclassifying   Evergreen House, Campbell River’s emergency shelter. They’ve engaged  consulting firm Innovation Partners International (IPI) to conduct the community input.

In a previous community meeting entitled Needs of the Homeless, hosted by the Campbell River Resource Centre, a goal was identified. The goal, accepted by all the participants, calls for: “An easily-accessed minimal-barrier shelter operating 24/7 under a harm reduction model, offering a spectrum of on-site, including sobering, assessment.”

Based on input from the community, the Salvation Army was asked to consider reclassifying the existing emergency shelter Evergreen House from high-barrier to minimal-barrier.

“We would like to be part of the solution and provide the service the community needs. Our partner BC Housing is supportive of the reclassification,” said Salvation Army Capt. Gordon Taylor.

Last October, a 16-bed, low-barrier shelter opened beside the downtown firehall in a pilot program operated by Radiant Life Church in partnership with Campbell River Family Services. The extreme weather shelter involved a converted shipping container and was deemed a success. But the program came to an end this spring.

The Shelter Reclassification Project, as outlined in the proposal from IPI, has two phases.

Phase one is the possible reclassification and transition of the shelter.

Phase two is working on recommendations, building partnerships, and exploring the possibilities of relocation.

Phase one is already underway and the design team held a meeting recently to discuss future forums – one for the neighbours of Evergreen House and one stakeholders and service providers.

Currently, the existing shelter is classified as high-barrier, meaning those under the influence of alcohol or non-prescription drugs are not permitted access. By reclassifying the shelter to minimal-barrier those under the influence would be permitted to stay as long as their behavior is respectful and responsible. The proposal also outlines exploring the potential to relocate the facility to an area that is suitable for the community.

“We feel this is an opportunity to improve sheltering services and address the needs of homelessness that have been identified in our community. In partnership we will be hosting a community engagement forum for the Neighbors located around Evergreen House (Emergency Shelter), as well as other concerned citizens to allow them and opportunity to lend their voice to this project,” said Wendy Tyrer, Chair of the Campbell River Homelessness Coalition.

“Working together from a strength-based perspective we can accomplish the goals set out in the proposal and address some of the needs of homelessness in the Campbell River community. Please come and lend your voice to this worthwhile project,” said Bill Scott, consultant from (IPI).

The Community Engagement for the Emergency Shelter Reclassification Project is open to the public and registration is required. The neighbourhood forum will be held on June 16 from 6:30-9 p.m. in the Carriage Room at the Royal Coachman, 84 Dogwood Street.

To register for the forum, call Sean Junglas at 250-914-1698 or email: Sean_Junglas@can.salvationarmy.org

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