The former Travelodge in Campbell River will be converted into social housing and operated by M’akola Housing Society. There are 30-40 people waiting to get into the facility, it being the most recent addition to social housing in the city.

Lack of housing an ‘escalating crisis’ says Campbell River mayor

Homelessness spreading to new groups of people, including those with multiple jobs

The lack of rental housing in Campbell River is a “crisis” that is “escalating” says Mayor Andy Adams.

The situation has reached a point where even those who hold down a job are finding themselves with no fixed address and nowhere to call home.

“We’re seeing more and more people who are facing homelessness in Campbell River and it’s not just the most vulnerable anymore. More people that have two jobs aren’t finding housing in Campbell River,” said Lori McKeown, program manager at the John Howard Society and a member of the local Housing First Committee

The committee was formed two years ago as representatives from local churches, charitable organizations and concerned community members came together to address homelessness and the lack of affordable housing in the city.

Linda Dwyer, a retired teacher who also sits on the local Housing First Committee, said it wasn’t hard to find people eager to help.

“It’s an issue that has an actual face that citizens see when they walk or drive on Campbell River streets,” Dwyer said. “We all value having a safe and comfortable place to live and we have empathy for those who do not enjoy that privilege.

“Our committee believes that without safe, affordable and perhaps supportive housing, people have very little chance of overcoming the reasons they became homeless in the first place.”

What’s arguably most concerning, Dwyer added, is that homelessness is affecting more people than ever before.

“Groups of people that have never faced homelessness before are teetering on the edge of becoming so,” Dwyer said.

McKeown echoed that.

“We’re feeling the problem is getting much worse with homelessness,” she said.

The pair attended Monday’s council meeting to ask for some help from the city. Their ask was for a city staff member to sit on the committee to provide assistance with things like reworking bylaws that have the potential to address affordable housing, as well as consider something similar to a referendum that was successful in the Comox Valley that asked residents to divert a portion of their property taxes towards addressing homelessness.

Mayor Adams agreed it’s an issue that needs some serious consideration, adding that it’s something council has been discussing and will continue to advocate for with the province.

“We know rental accommodations are diminishing and the crisis is escalating as the vacancy rates drop,” Adams said. “We’re very much aware. Council discusses this on a regular basis. We’ll take your recommendation under advisement and get back to you.”

Both Councillors Michele Babchuk and Charlie Cornfield suggested the committee’s request may be best put to the Strathcona Regional District as homelessness is seen as a regional issue and the communities within the regional district are currently working on the issue through the Community Health Network – a group of stakeholders tasked with analyzing the determinants of health and homelessness issues in the region.

“We’re trying to deal with this on a regional basis and I know a good percentage of our homeless are not from Campbell River, they come from the outlying areas which is why we support that regional approach,” Cornfield said.

To put the magnitude of the issue into perspective, McKeown shared that through the Homeless Prevention Program at the John Howard Society, 404 clients received program assistance but she said “countless” others were unable to be helped by the society. Of those who did receive assistance, 99 were families with 16 of those classified as experiencing ‘absolute homelessness.’

She said a further 30 to 50 families are waiting for a home through Makola Housing – the affordable housing project that is expected to open soon in the former Travelodge hotel – while Rose Harbour has a “constant” wait list of 30 to 40 names.

“There’s a real lack of affordable housing in Campbell River,” McKeown said, adding the problem was compounded with the recent loss of the Quinsam Hotel. “With the fire at the Quinny, that’s 14 people that are very hard to house, so that’s a significant loss for our community.”

McKeown added that the society does receive funding from BC Housing to help those who are facing homelessness find a place to call their own, however, those places just don’t physically exist anymore.

“We’re now at the point where we just can’t find any other housing.”

Just Posted

Monkey spotted on late-night jaunt in Campbell River

Conservation officers also apparently looking for cougar in the area

Community profiles show social determinants of health

Reports depict life in Campbell River and other Strathcona communities

‘Free Willy’ bill to end whale captivity supported by MP Blaney

Blaney says law would have died without efforts by New Democrat MPs

VIDEO: Pickup truck smashes into Campbell River home

No injuries reported in Friday morning incident

Help needed in locating concrete pump stolen from Campbell River business

The pump is considered a very high value item to the business

10 facts about Father’s Day

Did you know that the special day for dads was first celebrated in 1910?

B.C. VIEWS: When farmland protection doesn’t protect farmers

Secondary residences aren’t mansions, families tell Lana Popham

Bombers down B.C. Lions 33-23 in season opener

Former Lion Andrew Harris leads Winnipeg with 148 rushing yards

Northern B.C. family remembers murdered Indigenous woman with memorial walk

Still no closure for Ramona Wilson’s family 25 years later

B.C. university to offer mentorship program for former youth in care

Students using the provincial tuition waiver program will soon be able to form a community at KPU

Cyclists competing in one of the toughest bike races on the planet pass through Fernie

Divide riders looking strong as they finish first leg of 4160 km race

You might not know these B.C. records are public

Hired a lawyer to file a civil claim? Those are published online

B.C. bus driver loses case to get job back after texting while driving full bus

An arbitator ruled that Tim Wesman’s phone usage was a “a reckless disregard for public safety”

Revamped B.C. Lions set to battle veteran Winnipeg Blue Bombers

The Lions’ first test of the season will be a big one

Most Read