New shelter proposed for downtown

Campbell River Family Services wants to set up a permanent low-barrier shelter for people without homes

A permanent low-barrier shelter for the homeless may take up residence downtown.

Campbell River Family Services is proposing to set up a sobering assessment centre on the same Dogwood Street lot as the temporary winter shelter.

The shelter, a pilot project that ended in April, was successful in getting many homeless off the streets and led to a decrease in calls to the RCMP for service in areas where the homeless often congregate.

Its success led Family Services to seek a permanent shelter.

“The success of the cold weather shelter shows the need for a year-round centre in the treatment of addictions and homelessness,” said Coun. Larry Samson, liaison to the city’s public safety committee.

Samson added that a sobering centre is fully supported by the Campbell River RCMP and the initiative is directly in line with Mounties’ crime reduction strategies.

The sobering centre, which would be located next to the downtown fire hall, would provide the homeless with a place for the night, no matter their condition, and possibly medical help.

School District 72 has offered a large portable that students would be in charge of renovating. Paul Mason, a program supervisor at Campbell River Family Services, said a local property owner has also offered a construction trailer as a donation.

Mason recently told the city’s Community Services, Recreation and Culture Commission that the sobering centre would not cost the city a penny because Island Health and BC Housing would contribute funding to run the shelter, which would also be used as an extreme weather shelter in the wintertime.

City council was expected to discuss the sobering centre at Tuesday’s council meeting, after the Mirror went to press.

If council gives the go-ahead, Fire Chief Ian Baikie said a fixed facility will have to meet the requirements of the fire department regarding fire sprinklers, smoke alarms and well lit emergency exits.

The sobering centre would  require a permanent power source as well as water and sewer hook ups, according to Baikie.