The Town of Qualicum Beach has submitted a grant application to the Province of British Columbia with support from the City of Parksville and the Regional District of Nanaimo Electoral Areas E, F, G and H to secure $1.25 million in special funding under Strengthening Communities’ Services Program to develop up to 15 temporary dry recovery housing units for people facing homelessness.
This application comes after a unanimous vote from Town Council in favour of the housing project, as well as the coordinated efforts of the Oceanside Task Force on Homelessness, the Forward House, and the unanimous backing of the City of Parksville, the Regional District of Nanaimo and MLA Adam Walker.
The proposed project will create a dry ‘recovery community’ that will act as transitional housing to support those coming out of homelessness and moving into permanent housing.
When a person facing homelessness can live in supportive housing, they have a warm, safe place to sleep, access to the basic necessities of life, such as food, showers and laundry, and can participate in treatment to help address mental health and addiction challenges.
Currently, the population of people facing homelessness is widespread throughout the region, with most services located in Parksville and Qualicum Beach. If approved, this housing project will be the only dry transitional housing in the area, providing an opportunity for service providers to work collectively to serve vulnerable members of the population, helping them move out of homelessness, addressing health and addiction challenges, and eventually moving into permanent housing.
On site supports
The proposed project will be overseen by the Oceanside Task Force on Homelessness, with Forward House managing operations, as they are experienced in overseeing supportive housing for adults living with mental health and addiction recovery challenges. The site will have 24-hour security with training in mental health/addictions, one staff member overnight, and two staff members during the day, with other workers coming and going throughout the day.
Holistic wrap-around services will provide a collaborative approach to help tenants stabilize, recover and move into permanent housing. Wrap-around services have shown to increase the likelihood of remaining housed, long-term.
The temporary site will include up to 15 small homes that will be spaced to be COVID-19 health guideline compliant.
If approved by the Province, the project will be placed on the western half of 987 Jones Street in Qualicum Beach, lands that currently also host the Towns Operations Parks Yard. See the Town’s FAQ for more details and a map with the exact location (www.qualicumbeach.com).
This site was selected as it is close to all services and will allow the Town to connect the units to electrical, water and sewer. The Town had previously considered a location near the Qualicum Beach airport; however, that site did not receive early endorsement from the Province due to its distance from services and lack of access to transportation options.
The temporary buildings will not require a foundation, and will be placed on gravel and pilings, making it easy for the units to be relocated in the future.
Although the site identified for this initiative will require the removal of trees, and the altering of some trail segments, it is important to note that all Town owned properties being considered would have required the same treatment. The benefit of the site is that it is the only site that could offer proximity to Town core services, while being over ¼ kilometer away from densely populated residential areas.
The site will require rezoning to allow for the temporary use which will be managed through the issuance of a Temporary Use Permit.
If the grant funding is granted to the Town of Qualicum, construction is expected to begin within six weeks of approval being received, with the aim of moving tenants into the housing prior to the end of 2021.
The grant funding will cover the cost of the site-preparations, buildings and site operation for 9 months. After that time, if the project proves to be successful, the Town will explore permanent locations and provincial funding options to continue offering supportive housing to vulnerable people in the community, working in partnership with existing partners and stakeholders. The identification of a possible permanent location will be accomplished through a phased community outreach process to be publicly discussed and approved by the Council of the Town of Qualicum Beach in a public meeting.
Understanding that there was not sufficient time to have community dialogue in order to take advantage of this grant opportunity with the Province, the Town (with its project partners) will be hosting a virtual information session, through a Committee of the Whole meeting, tentatively set for 4:00 pm on April 29, 2021.
Residents and interested stakeholders are invited to register and attend the virtual information session to learn more about the project and to ask specific questions. Information shared at the meeting will further help the Town with project details.