People demonstrate at the tent city camp on the Victoria Law Courts property in 2015. The province moved some campers into nearby Mount Edward Court after purchasing the former care home last year, and a new proposal before the city calls for the facility to become supportive housing for nearly 100 middle-aged and older individuals. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito

Mount Edward supportive housing plan right for Victoria

Despite housing a larger number than currently on site, this proposal makes sense

Victoria council wants to see what could happen if a temporary housing facility and tent city solution is transformed into more targeted supportive accommodation.

The purchase and repurposing last year of one-time seniors home Mount Edwards Court by the province could be characterized as a move to show compassion to the homeless community and demonstrate to the public who was in charge. But the speed with which that plan was put in place made it obvious it was not a long-term solution.

B.C. Housing’s proposal to have the Victoria Cool-Aid Society operate what would become a supportive and, to a degree, subsidized facility for middle age and older tenants makes sense. It’s the logical next stage in giving people struggling with poverty, mental illness or addictions or other health challenges a hand up.

Cool Aid has built a solid reputation over the past decades working with homeless individuals in the downtown, helping find them transitional or more permanent housing and providing pathways to a more stable life.

The details and criteria for this project are being hammered out and require more input from the neighbourhood. Residents, as well as the operators of Christ Church Cathedral School across Rockland Avenue, have valid concerns about their proximity to a facility that would primarily house people who have been on society’s fringes.

That has been the case since last year. But this version of Mount Edward will hopefully come with more ongoing oversight and permanent staffing, perhaps similar to the model Our Place has used and improved upon since it opened.

Mount Edward, which offers as good a location as can be found for this type of facility, has served a valuable transitional role since last year. Those who were given a place to live by the province have been a part of a system that aims to help those most in need.

It’s time to fine-tune that help and steer these individuals toward further personal growth and independence.

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