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'Broken promises': Residents fear imminent closure of shelter in Parksville

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Diverging stories are coming from a temporary housing shelter in Parksville, B.C., that's closing at the end of the month.

BC Housing says all tenants of the building will be given new accommodations, but people living at the site say that's not the case.

The VIP Motel, also know as Ocean Place, opened as a temporary housing shelter during the COVID-19 pandemic.

BC Housing says it reached an agreement with the City of Parksville on Oct. 5 to close the shelter on March 31.

That closure date is fast approaching, and residents are getting nervous about what comes next.

"They're all broken promises," said resident Rodd Nall. "I've tried to keep my cool, you know, these people have been fighting for our lives."

Nall has been living at the shelter since the start of the pandemic. He and his wife are among those facing eviction and who say they have nowhere else to go.

"My wife, what are you going to do? Like, I'm supposed to put a tent over her wheelchair?" he said. "She's bedbound."

In a statement Tuesday, the province said all residents would be offered new housing.

"In partnership with non-profit housing providers, BC Housing has offered new, safe, indoor accommodations to all remaining shelter guests," reads the statement.

Due to privacy concerns, BC Housing says it's unable to say where the tenants will be going, but residents tell CTV News that they were promised housing in Parksville close to the services they currently use.

"This is not the case," said Kelly Morris, a recovery coach at the VIP Motel.

"They've moved nine people out already to Nanaimo against their will," she said. "They've also, it's been disclosed to me, that the rest of them they're not working with."

On Wednesday, a representative from BC Housing arrived at the motel to hold a meeting with staff looking after the facility.

"We have 24-hour staff. Two staff during the day, two staff during the evening," said Paula Miles, manager of the VIP Motel.

"We also have an executive director now and we walk alongside the residents and work with the goals they have in mind," she said.

Miles has managed the motel for the past five months and says the program is working and needs to stay.

"There is no place for these people to go but out on the street," she said. "So we're looking at close to 18 to 20 people could end up on the street."

BC Housing says it has opened 52 supportive homes in Parksville since 2018 and is working to provide more housing options and supports.

These tenants say they would love to get into some of those locations, but fear that on March 31 they will be on the streets or living in vehicles. 

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