Former Victoria care home will be converted to homeless housing: report
CTV Vancouver Island
Published Wednesday, February 3, 2016 6:36PM PST
Last Updated Wednesday, February 3, 2016 6:47PM PST
CTV News has learned that plans are going ahead to house Victoria’s homeless in a former seniors care home across from an elementary school.
The building has been the subject of controversy for months after it was revealed the Victoria Cool Aid Society sought to open up a 101-bed low-barrier housing facility there.
Multiple sources now tell CTV News that BC Housing will make an announcement Friday about ownership of the building and plans to house the homeless.
Cool Aid and BC Housing wouldn’t confirm the plans, but Victoria Mayor Lisa Helps was spotted leaving Christ Church Cathedral School with a Cool Aid representative after meeting with staff and students Wednesday.
“The city has no role, I can’t confirm anything at all,” said Helps on her way out.
While plans appear to be full steam ahead for the housing facility, reaction remains mixed among residents in the surrounding neighbourhood.
Many parents say they’re worried about homeless people living in such proximity to the school, and officials at the school recently pulled their public support for the project.
But other neighbours say they’re coming around to the idea.
“First of all, I support housing for homeless people. They don’t have a chance to turn their lives around,” said Karen Maxwell. “Second of all, they’re already living in our neighbourhood. They’re literally around the corner in tent city.”
The tent city camp at Victoria’s courthouse is home to many who would likely end up at the Mount Edwards Court building.
But residents there say they haven’t heard a peep about potential plans to relocate them.
“What needs to be done is a bit more communication, first of all. We haven’t even heard about this,” said Amanda Paska.
Others say they’re not keen on the idea of being forced out of the encampment, which exploded in population last fall when it was revealed a city bylaw prohibiting daytime camping in parks didn’t apply to the provincially owned courthouse land.
“A lot of us chafe under being told, okay, these are the rules for everyone and this is what you have to do,” said resident Nicholas Jewell.
Any long-term housing at Mount Edwards would require rezoning before it went ahead.
While exactly how the facility will operate remains unclear for another day or two, its direction appears determined.