VICTORIA -- After struggling with the problem of providing showers to people living in city parks, the City of Victoria has found a solution. The city will provide a grant to the Salvation Army for a mobile shower trailer.

The non-profit agency will receive $86,500 to establish mobile shower facilities that will operate five days a week. The shower trailer will move between the sites of homeless encampments in city parks.

“The trailer can be driven around the city so people who are living outside who don’t have access to the most basic need will be able to (shower),” said Victoria Mayor Lisa Helps. “With the Salvation Army stepping up and the city funding the project, people will be able to have showers at various encampments.”

The city is providing $115,420 in grants to ensure people who are sheltering outdoors have access to showers and other outreach services until the end of March 2021. The funding for the grants comes from the more than $6.5 million the city received from the federal and B.C. governments through the the COVID-19 Safe Restart Grant for local governments.

“Part of the (grant) is mandated to be used for marginalized populations, so this is a logical fit for that funding program,” said Helps. “We’ve got washrooms and running water and showers are the final piece of the puzzle.”

Total cost of the Salvation Army’s “shower project” is estimated to be $142,000, and the non-profit agency will be absorbing the costs in excess of the City of Victoria grant. It will pay to staff, insure and transport the mobile unit in addition to providing towels and fresh clothing.

“It’s great that the Salvation Army is stepping up and with the trailer travelling around the city five days a week to various places where people are sheltering and people will be clean and dry and warm,” said Helps. “It’s the community coming together once again to provide support services and this grant application process brought out some really good initiatives.”

The city says becuase operation of the mobile shower facility will managed by the Salvation Army, it is unknown when and where the unit will first be deployed. It expects the showers to be up and running in the coming weeks.

Part of the $115,420 allocated from the COVID-19 Safe Restart program was awarded to the Umbrella Society for Addictions and Mental Health. That organization was given $22,400 to deliver care services and meals to Victoria’s homeless population.

The city is also providing a one-time grant of $6,500 for a community care tent that will be set up in or near Beacon Hill Park. According to city staff, the tent will manage donated goods and provide basic health services through a partnership with James Bay United Church.