Temporary homeless shelter in Sooke much needed this winter
VICTORIA -- A temporary homeless shelter in Sooke is trying its best to keep up with demand as cold and wet weather settles in across the island.
The Vancouver Island municipality has no permanent shelter, though it has its share of unsheltered people living in the community.
“I think that small towns often have a homeless population that’s invisible,” said Amy Bell, operations manager for Sooke Shelter.
A Sooke resident told CTV News Friday that homelessness in the area was “in the back streets, it’s not in your face.”
Still, the housing challenge exists and has caused friction for both sheltered and unsheltered members of the community.
Calls and complaints from homeowners near encampments have spiked recently. So, a temporary homeless shelter has been created in the municipality, after the previous temporary shelter at the SEAPARC Leisure Centre had to close, as community recreation programs have started back up.
“Everyone should feel safe and secure in their homes,” said Sooke Mayor Maja Tait. “That’s important to all of us but we want to ensure those living outside of safe and stable housing are looked after as well.”
The new shelter has been set up at 2197 Otter Point Rd. Seventeen physically distanced sleeping spaces are available, though Bell says that the shelter serves about 25 people every day.
While more space is needed, locals say the impact the shelter has had so far is inspiring.
“If it wasn’t for them, truthfully, I don’t know where I’d be,” said an unsheltered man who asked to be identified only by his first name, Charisse.
The lease for the Otter Point Road shelter will expire in February. Officials are hoping to have another, and hopefully larger, space available by then.