Sooke secures safe, suitable space for homeless residents

[SOOKE, BC]

The District of Sooke’s Emergency Operations Centre (EOC) and the Government of B.C., through BC Housing, have identified a new location that will provide approximately 17 shelter spaces for those in the community experiencing homelessness, including people camping in Ed Macgregor Park.

“The pandemic has been difficult for all of us, but our neighbours without homes are especially at risk and the importance of safe, secure shelter has never been more clear,” said Premier John Horgan, MLA for Langford-Juan de Fuca. “As we continue the work of building urgently-needed affordable housing, we are working with our partners to provide supports to people who need them”.

The interim shelter solution, located on a private piece of land in the District, is currently being renovated to accommodate guests. Every person will get their own bed and have access to washroom facilities. The shelter will be ready to welcome residents on July 20th.

“Part of embracing ‘the new normal’ during the pandemic is thinking outside the box, forging new relationships with community partners and finding solutions that work for everyone,” said Mayor Maja Tait. “I am grateful, but not surprised, that community partners came together under tight timelines, and found a better way to help our most vulnerable residents. In Sooke, we have big hearts and we take care of our own. “

A small homeless camp was struck at Ed Macgregor Park on June 19, when residents of the SEAPARC Emergency Response Center were asked to vacate to allow the center to resume regular operations that were halted due to COVID-19. Local outreach workers and RCMP maintained contact with those living in the park until a longer-term suitable space could be found.

BC Housing is funding renovations of the building and on site-operations. As was the case at SEAPARC, the Sooke Region Communities Health Network will oversee day-to-day services provided to the residents. Multiple agencies – including the Sooke Shelter Society, AVI Health and Community Services, as well as Island Health – have signed on to provide wrap-around services such as twice-daily meals as well as physical and mental health support.

“Sooke is no stranger to homelessness but what the pandemic did was bring into sharp focus the need to move beyond transitional and stabilization units and bridge to longer-term supportive housing,” said Tait.

Announced in December 2018, the District of Sooke and the CRD Board, in partnership with the BC government, recommended land acquisition and development of two adjacent properties located at Drennan Street and Sooke Road as well as an additional property located on Charters Road. The projects offer stable housing for low-income individuals and families. Charters housing is expected to be ready in 2021.

The need to support Sooke’s vulnerable population through the COVID-19 pandemic was first identified through the Sooke Homeless Coalition in March. The District of Sooke Emergency Operations Centre (EOC) is the lead on planning and sourcing resources, in consultation with external agencies.

The EOC remains committed to upholding all public health orders issued by Dr. Bonnie Henry, B.C.’s Provincial Health Officer.

Media Contact:
Matt Barney, Emergency Program Coordinator & EOC Director
District of Sooke Fire Rescue 250-642-5422 ext. 638 | SEPDirector@sooke.ca

District Contact and Social Media Channels:
Website: www.sooke.ca Twitter: @SookeCa Facebook: Emergency Program
District Phone: 250-642-1634 Fax: 250-642-0541
District Email: info@sooke.ca Fire Dept. Phone: 250-642-5422 Fax: 250-642-3840

 

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