People hauling grocery carts, suitcases and large bags around the downtown area will now have the option of storing their possessions. A new storage facility opened at Our Place Society on Feb. 13, the first of its kind in the Capital Region.
The free service can be accessed twice per day and allows 100 people to keep their possessions safe and dry. Eighty plastic totes, which hold up to 50 pounds, and space for grocery carts and suitcases are in the facility.
People can keep items there indefinitely as long as they check in on their items once per day, either in person or over the phone.
“The big thing really is that it’s to allow people to access shelter. A lot of time people don’t access shelter because they’re afraid that their items will be stolen,” said Grant McKenzie, director of communications at Our Place. “But also, for people looking to get a job interview, a doctors appointment … basic things that we don’t really think twice about but something they really have to put a lot of thought into.”
The City of Victoria set aside more than $100,000 for the storage facility two years ago to cover building materials and the first year of staff wages but had trouble tracking down a good location for the site.
Previously, the space within the Our Place courtyard had been a temporary overdose prevention site, but since The Harbour supervised consumption site opened up next door the area became available.
“We did lose a lot of space here, we have a very busy courtyard,” said Don Evans, executive director at Our Place. “But we also know how important this service is to the community and had to balance that out, and really felt like it was an important thing to do so we decided to take it on.”
By 9:30 a.m. a dozen bins were already claimed, including one by Don Keller, who says he’s been researching rainforests and climate change for over two decades.
“I have my 25 years of field notes, and I have one copy of it and I’m waiting for a day where I don’t go and have it totally destroyed,” Keller said. “I’ve also got my cameras with all the film that goes with it; I’m so worried, I have to publish this year.”
For Ryan Williams, having storage is a practical option for day-to-day chores.
“I can go do stuff now, I can pick up more applications and fill up my bag a bit differently; instead of just having clothing in there I can have some more food on me now,” Williams said. “It’s a weight off my shoulders.”
No illegal items are permitted within the storage unit, but McKenzie noted that a huge portion of this space is building trust with the community, so bins won’t be searched unless there is a reason to do so.
Send a Tweet: @NicoleCrescenzi
Like us on Facebook