Melaina Patenaude, a spokeswoman for the United Way Central and Northern Vancouver Island, speaks to North Cowichan’s council at a packed public meeting Wednesday about the necessity of an emergency shelter for women in the area. (Robert Barron/Citizen)

Duncan winter shelter for women expected to open this month

North Cowichan gives green light to shelter after packed public meeting

A winter-weather women’s shelter is expected to open later this month after North Cowichan’s council unanimously gave it a green light this week.

Council faced a packed house at its public meeting on Wednesday to discuss whether the municipality would issue a temporary use permit to the Cowichan Women Against Violence Society to use a School District 79 building on University Way for the shelter.

RELATED STORY: NORTH COWICHAN TO HEAR FROM PUBLIC, DECIDE FATE OF WINTER WOMEN’S SHELTER

A number of speakers and letter writers expressed concerns that the location is inappropriate for such a purpose, with some pointing out possible problems with a shelter being placed adjacent to a children’s play centre called Wendy’s House.

But many of the approximately 25 speakers who talked to council about the issue pointed out how necessary it is to look after women in distress in the community.

RELATED STORY: ADVOCATES SAY WOMEN’S SHELTER IN DUNCAN IS A NECESSITY

“We’re thrilled that the community’s support has finally come together to help provide a safe, warm place for local women to sleep this winter,” says Melaina Patenaude, community impact officer for the United Way Central and Northern Vancouver Island.

“Last year, the Cowichan Coalition to Address Homelessness and Housing identified the dire need for the shelter, based on the homeless count data and feedback from United Way’s partner agencies. From this, United Way initiated an emergency winter response action team that has worked diligently over the past 15 months to make this shelter a reality.”

Other proposed locations for an emergency shelter for women, including the old school building on Cairnsmore Street and one the old Charles Hoey School in Duncan, have already been rejected by the City of Duncan’s previous council, largely due to protests from neighbours.

RELATED STORY: DUNCAN DENIES EMERGENCY SHELTER FOR WOMEN ON CAIRNSMORE STREET

Under the temporary permit, the shelter is allowed to open nightly between the hours of 5 p.m. and 9 a.m. until March 31, 2019.

The permit also includes conditions that require security measures and daily sweeps of the site to ensure that it is clean and safe.

“Decisions about shelters can be difficult,” says Al Siebring, mayor of North Cowichan.

“North Cowichan council has demonstrated enormous resolve and supported this application wholeheartedly. Council also commends the Cowichan Valley School District for making its land available for this shelter. Supporting initiatives like this makes our communities stronger.”

Funding for the shelter has been approved by BC Housing for this coming winter.

According to a staff report, which recommended the application for the shelter be approved, “The site is ideally located to services and day-time warming places (i.e. the library, coffee shops), some social services, as well as the RCMP station.”

Now that the permit has been granted, CWAV will finalize fire safety upgrades to the building, hire shelter staff, and prepare the building with the goal opening on Dec. 20.

“The Cowichan Women Against Violence Society is committed to working collaboratively with the Cowichan Valley community in finding solutions to challenging situations,” said CWAV executive director Debbie Berg.

“This project will allow us to provide dignity to the vulnerable and safety to the community. If you would like to help us with some donations, we will be open to receiving clean warm socks, mitts, scarves, hygiene products, personal items such as soap, small shampoos, toothbrushes, and toothpaste.”



robert.barron@cowichanvalleycitizen.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Just Posted

Cowichan Crime Stoppers most wanted of the week

Do you know where these people are?

North Cowichan considers changes to pot shop criteria

Rules around distance from schools, other cannabis shops, proving problematic

North Cowichan/Duncan RCMP reports rise in calls for service

Increase of 4.6 per cent over same time last year

MPs call on fisheries minister to allow sport fishing of marked chinook

MacGregor among those citing coastal communities rely on recreational fishing

DeLong running for Conservatives in Cowichan-Malahat-Langford

One-time Alberta MLA aims for a seat in Ottawa

VIDEO: Missing teens named as suspects in three northern B.C. killings

Kam McLeod and Bryer Schmegelsky are wanted in the deaths of Lucas Fowler, Chynna Deese, unknown man

BC Cancer Agency refuses to release audit’s critical findings, but discloses ‘positive’ findings

Information and Privacy Commissioner asked to review redactions of cancer agency’s triage audit

B.C. teens wanted in double homicide, suspicious death spotted in Manitoba

Kam McLeod and Bryer Schmegelsky were thought to have been seen in the Gillam area

Vancouver Island man wanted after walking away from halfway house in Victoria

Warrant issued for Jesse Goodale, convicted of aggravated assault

Countdown starts to 2020 BC Summer Games

Two flags unveiled at Maple Ridge city hall.

Memorial bench painted by Vancouver woman to stay in park for now

Park board to look at options for artistic enhancements on commemorative benches

VIDEO: Man found dead near B.C. teens’ truck could be linked to a double homicide

RCMP said they are looking for Kam McLeod, 19, and Bryer Schmegelsky, 18, of Port Alberni

Weather Network’s anti-meat video ‘doesn’t reflect true story’: cattle ranchers

At issue is the video’s suggestion that cutting back on meat consumption could help save the planet

VIDEO: Young couple found dead in northern B.C. had been shot, police say

Chynna Noelle Deese of the U.S. and Lucas Robertson Fowler of Australia were found along Highway 97

Most Read