The former Boys and Girls club at 1205 Yates St. will reopen as a transitional shelter this winter. (Lauren Boothby/VICTORIA NEWS)

Former shelter at Boys and Girls club to reopen

Our Place-operated facility to be used as transitional shelter in winter months

When the doors of the former Boys and Girls Club reopen as a temporary shelter again this winter, the reception could be a little warmer.

Last week, Victoria city council unanimously granted the application to lease the property at 1240 Yates St. to Our Place. The non-profit will operate My Place Transitional Home on behalf of BC Housing as a 24/7 seasonal shelter for up to 40 people until April 30, with the goal of housing previously homeless people in a stable environment.

According to the city, groups consulted about the proposed use of the building did not express opposition at an information meeting held Nov. 8 at Central Middle School, located across the street.

RELATED: Winter shelters open as temperatures drop across Greater Victoria

Coun. Charlayne Thornton Joe, who is council’s liaison to that neighbourhood, noted the community’s receptivity to the project seems noticeably different this year. She said that while the security and staffing are the same, the way Our Place operates will be different.

“We have addressed some of the concerns we heard in the past, and the model has changed,” she said.

Previously, the residents came from tent city and from sleeping on the streets, but this year, the people being housed have already been living at First Metropolitan Church. Those people will be vetted and assessed before being moved over to the transitional shelter on Yates Street, Thornton Joe said.

“What I’m seeing is the model is actually improved,” she explained. “Obviously there have been some individuals who still have expressed concerns…but in general we heard even from the most immediate neighbours…they feel their concerns are heard immediately and addressed each time there are problems.”

Residents of the re-opened shelter will sleep in cubicles and have a place to store their belongings during the day, and no tents will be used. There will also be a housing worker onsite to help residents find more permanent shelter when it becomes available.

Coun. Ben Isitt said he supported the leasing agreement although he didn’t think it was the best use of the heritage property. Rather than focusing on temporary winter shelters, he said he would like to see more long-term, permanent social housing.

“I think if we get to the point where we have a sufficient supply of non-market, social housing in the community, we won’t need these types of facilities,” he said.

When there is more of this type of housing available, he said, sheltering in the parks will not be needed, and the number of emergency shelters will be significantly reduced.

“Really the pressing need, for this community and province, is a massive expansion of de-commodified, state-owned, and state-supported housing,” he said.

RELATED: Former Boys and Girls Club building to house courthouse campers

Isitt’s comments drew criticism from Coun. Geoff Young, who suggested his ideas about de-commodified housing were similar to the “Bolshevik revolution.” And while Young had reservations about the use of this building, he supported the lease.

“This is not a very good way to organize temporary housing. We’re talking about allocating space on a gym floor, but the fact is, it worked moderately well last time,” he said. “[But] I feel the reason it was successful was precisely because of the limits on the time allowable.”

Coun. Young said he expects similar temporary shelter applications to come before council in the coming weeks.

lauren.boothby@vicnews.com

Just Posted

Four-sailing wait at BC Ferries Swartz Bay terminal

Full vessels create long waits on Friday afternoon

Tent city campers prepare to leave Uplands Park

Vehicle access remains restricted at Cattle Point

A year in tent city: Timeline of Camp Namegans

Since September 2017, Victoria’s homeless camp has set up in more than 20 locations

Tommy Chong says cannabis legalization makes him proud to be a Canadian

Legendary marijuana advocate and comedian celebrates cultural milestone at Kelowna event

‘Repeat test fails’ clogging up the system, says ICBC

Increased driver education key to shorter wait times, safer roads

Singer k.d. lang receives Alberta’s highest honour

Celebrated singer-songwriter k.d. lang received the Alberta Order of Excellence in Edmonton

Find your future at Black Press career fair in Victoria

More than 70 booths expected at Bay Street Armoury on Oct. 25

Crime Stoppers most wanted for Greater Victoria for Oct. 19

Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers is seeking the public’s help in locating the… Continue reading

POLL: Do you support amalgamation for communities in the Capital Region?

Residents in Victoria and Saanich will be voting on Oct. 20 on… Continue reading

B.C. tickets win big in Lotto Max draw

Jackpot carried over; B.C. tickets share Max Millions prizes

‘Mom, I’m in trouble:’ Canadian faces 10 years for alleged graffiti

Brittney Schneider, another tourist caught spraying message on walls of Tha Pae Gate in Thailand

Feds consulting on national anti-racism strategy behind closed doors

Heritage Minister Pablo Rodriguez says people still face systemic racism in some communities

Enbridge aims for mid-November to finish B.C. pipeline repair after blast

A natural gas pipeline that ruptured and burned near Prince George caused an explosion and fireball

Most Read