VICTORIA -- The B.C. government will continue to use the Travelodge in Victoria’s Burnside Gorge area as a homeless shelter until the end of the year.

The province announced Wednesday it was extending its lease of the building until Dec. 31, 2021. The housing ministry says it extended the lease to avoid putting more people onto the street.

Previously, some people living at the Travelodge were set to move into housing at the Capital City Center Hotel, until a fire broke out at the building in November, making approximately 90 supportive housing units unliveable.

Victoria Mayor Lisa Helps says that she is confident that lease will not be extended again, past the end of the year.

“We know this is a difficult decision for everyone,” she said in a release Wednesday. “I want to thank the province for its thoughtful leadership and the Burnside Gorge community for pulling together to help some of the region’s most vulnerable residents through this challenging time.”

The Travelodge was first leased by BC Housing in May 2020 to shelter people who were living on Pandora Avenue and in Topaz Park.

Currently, 94 people are being housed at the building. Moving forward, BC Housing says it will work with the owner of the Travelodge to improve the property. The planned improvements include new fire safety measures, and more external landscaping and regular garbage removal.

The Victoria Cool Aid Society, which staffs the building 24/7, will remain as the operator of the shelter. The province says that more community engagement meetings will also take place in the future.

“Everyone recognizes the urgent need for safe and secure homes for people experiencing homelessness in Victoria and throughout the Capital Regional District,” said David Eby, Attorney General and Minister Responsible for Housing.

“Sending Travelodge residents out to join encampments by closing this temporary facility prematurely is simply not an option,” he said. “Instead, our plan is that the residents of the Travelodge will be out of this temporary accommodation by the end of the year and into permanent, supportive units.”

According to the province, approximately 340 supportive homes are currently under construction in the Capital Regional District.

Earlier this year, BC Housing announced that Victoria’s Save-On-Foods Memorial Center would be reused as a temporary shelter for 45 individuals, while the province funded the construction of 30 “tiny homes” at Royal Athletic Park.