John Sherratt, manager of supportive housing for the Victoria Cool Aid Society, stands in a unit on the lower floor of the organization’s newest housing facility, the former Tally Ho Motel on Douglas Street. Don Descoteau/Victoria News

WATCH: New residents settling in to former Tally Ho Motel

Cool Aid providing supportive housing for ex-Choices residents and others

With Choices Transitional Home now closed in View Royal and the majority of its residents moved into the former Tally Ho Motel now being operated as supportive housing by the Victoria Cool Aid Society, the tenants are noticing a real difference.

One resident, who identifies himself as Randy, is among the nearly 40 people who transferred here from Choices.

“It’s way more spacious and way more cleaner,” he says, grabbing a coffee in the lounge/dining area that was once Kitty’s Hideaway. “Everything’s newer here. Just everything is good here, the staff are here for us … It’s like night and day compared to Choices in here, that’s all I can say.”

He is hopeful that his stay here will be a move toward more permanent housing, but he’s taking things a day at a time. “It’s hard to find housing, everybody’s aware of that. But for the best part I’m doing what I’m doing every day and remaining positive.”

The rooms are significantly larger than the one-time youth corrections jail cells at Choices. Some have kitchenettes, others have a microwave, but all are clean with new bedding and have been freshened up since the motel closed. In terms of keeping things clean, residents are left to their own habits, but a client service worker is available to support them in adjusting to living in a larger space.

Another Choices transfer, Trevor, foresees that the facility and its services will help residents gain more stability in their lives. Personally, he calls the move a “big step up” from Choices for features like the individual washrooms, on-premise laundry facilities, the lounge area and of course, the meals.

In taking over and renovating the building, Cool Aid gutted the original bar kitchen on site and created a facility they can be proud of, says head chef and food service co-ordinator Paul Stewart.

“The feedback’s been great,” he says of resident comments. “The food quality is up there, it’s made with care and I think they taste that, so that’s important to us as well.”

The small staff cook breakfast and dinner for 50 people daily. And with a training program getting underway to teach kitchen skills to residents, it’s expected there’ll be help available in putting on the meals.

In terms of the rooms, 45 of the 52 spaces had been filled as of Tuesday, says John Sherratt, manager of supportive housing for Cool Aid.

With three people due to transfer from Mount Edwards Court on Vancouver Street, four rooms will be left. Sherratt doesn’t expect they will remain vacant for long. But it’s not as if there’s a waiting list for the spots, he says, “because waiting indicates time.”

“What we look to more is ‘need,’ and do they fit into the building,” he says.

The ground floor of rooms, accessible only to those with the correct fob, is a “quiet zone.” The area is designed to give people more sensitive to noise and activity a safe space, Sherratt said, and to accommodate those who are working.

Steps away but accessible to all residents is a door leading to the onetime pool and patio area. The pool has been filled in with soil and grass planted, and various plants have been placed around to create a comfortable outdoor space, albeit one looking directly onto the busy Jim Pattison Toyota dealership.

There’s still a few overflowing shopping carts in the parking lot, a sign that some residents may not be quite ready to give up some of the vestiges of their past life.

“Someone first and foremost has to feel secure,” Sherratt explains. “Once someone feels safe and secure, they begin to give up some of the possessions.”

The activities being ramped up here include a ready-to-rent program designed to teach good tenant-landlord relations, a music program and a health protocol with doctors and nurses from Cool Aid’s downtown clinic stopping in regularly.

The temporary use permit granted for the site by the City of Victoria lasts just three years, although Cool Aid has begun working on plans to develop a purpose-built building on the back parking lot. But that time restriction isn’t being emphasized for tenants, Sherratt notes. More important for now, he says, is assuring them they’re in a supported environment and helping tenants feel a part of something.

“One of the primary goals is to build a sense of community.”

editor@vicnews.com

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

 

A resident relaxes in the TV room/dining lounge area at the Cool Aid housing facility in the former Tally Ho Motel on Douglas Street. Don Descoteau/Victoria News

Senior cook Jodi Rimmer is set to begin preparing a lunch meal in the industrial kitchen at the Cool Aid housing facility in the former Tally Ho Motel on Douglas Street. The consistently good food is one of the best improvements from their previous arrangement at the Choices Transitional Home, say many residents. Don Descoteau/Victoria News

The swimming pool has been filled with soil and had grass planted, to create a safe and pleasant outdoor area for residents at Cool Aid’s renovated housing facility at the former Tally Ho Motel. Don Descoteau/Victoria News

Just Posted

VIDEO: Dashcam records near-miss by bad driver near Sooke

Driver crossed four lanes of traffic and back over again, barely missing three other vehicles

Protesters block entrance to Victoria government building to support Wet’suwet’en First Nation

A letter with four demands was delivered to the Ministry of Energy, Mines and Petroleum Resources

George Jay parents tired of dog poop left on school’s fields

Parents advocate for stronger fines, more signage in the neighbourhood

PHOTOS: Neither rain, nor sleet, nor snow stopped paper carriers

More than 180 carriers brave the snow for deliveries

VIDEO: Greater Victoria mom shares ‘insane’ experience of viral dinosaur video

Tabitha Cooper filmed her costumed sons meeting their grandma at the Victoria International Airport

Maple Ridge’s Larry Walker Jr. gets voted into Cooperstown

Walker received percent of the Baseball Writers of America Association vote

Boy, 13, arrested after alleged assault involving girl at B.C. middle school

Boy alleged to have used ‘inappropriate levels of force’ to injure the girl

Police suspect foul play in Cowichan Tribes death

Police are looking at foul play in relation to a death on… Continue reading

Hospital patient pleads guilty to dumbbell assault of nurse in Abbotsford

Neale Heath admits to assault causing bodily harm in attack last September

‘Epic sky palace’: B.C. businesses help create dream treehouse for boy recovering from cancer

‘It was kind of a bright shining beacon at the end of a horrible, dark tunnel’

VIDEO: Nickelback gears up for nostalgia tour

Canadian band joins Stone Temple Pilots for a summer tour that includes just one stop in Canada

B.C. teacher suspended for poking student in stomach, pulling another’s ponytail

Teacher also swore in classroom, used Facebook to contact students

Larry Walker Jr. and Sr. keeping expectations low for hall-of-fame induction

Walker needs 75 percent of votes in order to be inducted into Cooperstown

Most Read