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City ‘working actively’ on alternative plan to shelter homeless from COVID-19

The City of Campbell River still has plans to shelter the community’s homeless population from COVID-19.

On May 26th, the city nixed the idea of providing a temporary campsite for people experiencing homelessness.

The site on the former BMX track on Homewood Road would have provided up to 25 appropriately-distanced camping spots.

City manager, Deborah Sargent, says an alternative option is in the works, but what it is, and when it is going to be unveiled, remains unclear.

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“It has been several weeks now, and we are working actively on an alternative plan. It’s always our goal to provide more information as soon as we have it available, but unfortunately at this time I don’t have a lot to share.”

Sargent said supportive housing and supporting the city’s most vulnerable is one of council’s top strategic priorities.

The city is developing partnerships with local social service agencies, as well as the Coalition to End Homelessness, and BC Housing.

“We have an active memorandum of understanding with BC Housing to deliver 50 units of supportive housing, and those would be specifically geared towards people who are experiencing homelessness.”

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Sargent pointed to recent projects that are “alleviating the city’s homeless situation,” including:

  • Rose Harbour, which offers women’s transition housing, 
  • BC Housing’s recent purchase of the former Heritage River Inn on Highway 19, to provide 41 units for those displaced by Pacific West complex fire, and 
  • Linda’s Place, an affordable housing project for brain injury survivors and their families.

During this past Tuesday’s committee of the whole meeting, the city’s bylaw enforcement department reported that officers dealing with people camping on city-owned land topped the list of complaints.

The last homeless count in Campbell River was in 2019 and found 80 people experiencing homelessness in the city.

With this year’s count being cancelled due to the pandemic, Sargent said that number could now be as high as 100.

“It’s a huge issue that we’re really looking at addressing,” she added.  

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