[Hpn] Neighbourhood worries as church rolls out plan for homeless shelter

William Charles Tinker wtinker@verizon.net
Thu, 24 Aug 2006 04:36:42 -0400


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Neighbourhood worries as church rolls out plan for homeless shelter
Carolyn Heiman, Times-Colonist

Published: Wednesday, August 23, 2006=20
Jean Gibson's voice wasn't nearly as loud or angry as many speakers at =
an information meeting Wednesday on a temporary homeless shelter planned =
for the basement at The Church of St. John the Divine.

Nor did the 86-year-old, who lives in St. John's Court next to the =
church, use many words compared to others who had to be told they had =
already made their point.=20

Gibson simply said: "I represent 18 nervous old ladies next door, five =
of whom live on the main floor" adjacent to where homeless people are to =
be sent. "We are in favour of this, but we have some reservations."

She wanted reassurances that she and other in her building would be =
safe, and that the up to 40 people expected to use the shelter wouldn't =
be hanging around the church beyond shelter hours, and using drugs.

Keyvan Shojania, a lawyer and developer of a condominium building =
immediately across from the church, wanted reassurances from agencies =
that back the shelter that it really would operate temporarily from =
Sept. 1 to Oct. 15 and is not the beginning of a permanent facility.

Shojania said the main floor of his 1600 Quadra St. building still under =
renovation has been leased to a day care and exercise facility. "No one =
has thought to ask if [the shelter] is an appropriate use for this =
neighborhood."

A "Good Neighbour Protocol" associated with the shelter outlines the 10 =
p.m.-6 a.m. hours of operations along with promised additional policing =
and cleanup for the area. Weekly meetings to discuss concerns will be =
held for the neighbourhood association, area businesses and agencies =
involved in the shelter.

Coun. Dean Fortin told the 70 people at the meeting that the $25,000 =
earmarked for the project from B.C. Housing Corporation was contingent =
on the shelter being temporary, and there are no plans to extend the use =
beyond the six weeks. The site is already used in winter as a temporary =
out-of-the-rain shelter for youths.

Victoria police, the City of Victoria, the church and the Victoria Cool =
Aid Society developed the plan for the temporary shelter this month =
after concerns were raised about the number of homeless people still =
left sleeping on the street after the 100 available beds at city =
shelters were taken.=20

City police Insp. John Ducker estimates 40 to 60 people sleep on the =
street every night. Each morning police wake them up and move them away =
from private and business doorsteps.

Often the homeless are not engaged in any activity that is illegal, he =
said. They simply don't have a place to go. He promised that policing =
would be ramped up during the times the shelter operates.

Xane St. Phillip, who lives next door to the church on Balmoral Avenue, =
said he was angry about the lack of consultation with the neighbours.

Rev. Harold Munn and other spokespersons for the project said the =
details came together in just over a few weeks and it wasn't until =
possible funding was identified last week that there was a concrete plan =
to bring to neighbours.

The St. John congregation learned of the plan on Sunday although church =
wardens earlier approved it. Parishioner Murray Harris said he was proud =
his church was being proactive on homelessness.=20

The $40,500 cost of the shelter, to be managed by Victoria Cool-=C5id =
Society which also manages Streetlink on Wharf Street, will be borne by =
B.C. Housing, the city, Downtown Victoria Community Alliance Group, and =
the Downtown Victoria Business Association.

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<H2>Neighbourhood worries as church rolls out plan for homeless=20
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Carolyn Heiman, Times-Colonist</DIV>
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<DIV class=3Dfeed_details>Published: Wednesday, August 23, 2006 </DIV>
<DIV class=3Dpara12 id=3Darticle>
<P>Jean Gibson=92s voice wasn=92t nearly as loud or angry as many =
speakers at an=20
information meeting Wednesday on a temporary homeless shelter planned =
for the=20
basement at The Church of St. John the Divine.</P>
<P>Nor did the 86-year-old, who lives in St. John=92s Court next to the =
church,=20
use many words compared to others who had to be told they had already =
made their=20
point. </P>
<P>Gibson simply said: "I represent 18 nervous old ladies next door, =
five of=20
whom live on the main floor" adjacent to where homeless people are to be =
sent.=20
"We are in favour of this, but we have some reservations."</P>
<P>She wanted reassurances that she and other in her building would be =
safe, and=20
that the up to 40 people expected to use the shelter wouldn=92t be =
hanging around=20
the church beyond shelter hours, and using drugs.</P>
<P>Keyvan Shojania, a lawyer and developer of a condominium building =
immediately=20
across from the church, wanted reassurances from agencies that back the =
shelter=20
that it really would operate temporarily from Sept. 1 to Oct. 15 and is =
not the=20
beginning of a permanent facility.</P>
<P>Shojania said the main floor of his 1600 Quadra St. building still =
under=20
renovation has been leased to a day care and exercise facility. "No one =
has=20
thought to ask if [the shelter] is an appropriate use for this=20
neighborhood."</P>
<P>A "Good Neighbour Protocol" associated with the shelter outlines the =
10=20
p.m.-6 a.m. hours of operations along with promised additional policing =
and=20
cleanup for the area. Weekly meetings to discuss concerns will be held =
for the=20
neighbourhood association, area businesses and agencies involved in the=20
shelter.</P>
<P>Coun. Dean Fortin told the 70 people at the meeting that the $25,000=20
earmarked for the project from B.C. Housing Corporation was contingent =
on the=20
shelter being temporary, and there are no plans to extend the use beyond =
the six=20
weeks. The site is already used in winter as a temporary out-of-the-rain =
shelter=20
for youths.</P>
<P>Victoria police, the City of Victoria, the church and the Victoria =
Cool Aid=20
Society developed the plan for the temporary shelter this month after =
concerns=20
were raised about the number of homeless people still left sleeping on =
the=20
street after the 100 available beds at city shelters were taken. </P>
<P>City police Insp. John Ducker estimates 40 to 60 people sleep on the =
street=20
every night. Each morning police wake them up and move them away from =
private=20
and business doorsteps.</P>
<P>Often the homeless are not engaged in any activity that is illegal, =
he said.=20
They simply don=92t have a place to go. He promised that policing would =
be ramped=20
up during the times the shelter operates.</P>
<P>Xane St. Phillip, who lives next door to the church on Balmoral =
Avenue, said=20
he was angry about the lack of consultation with the neighbours.</P>
<P>Rev. Harold Munn and other spokespersons for the project said the =
details=20
came together in just over a few weeks and it wasn=92t until possible =
funding was=20
identified last week that there was a concrete plan to bring to =
neighbours.</P>
<P>The St. John congregation learned of the plan on Sunday although =
church=20
wardens earlier approved it. Parishioner Murray Harris said he was proud =
his=20
church was being proactive on homelessness. </P>
<P>The $40,500 cost of the shelter, to be managed by Victoria Cool-=C5id =
Society=20
which also manages Streetlink on Wharf Street, will be borne by B.C. =
Housing,=20
the city, Downtown Victoria Community Alliance Group, and the Downtown =
Victoria=20
Business Association.</P></DIV></DIV></DIV></BODY></HTML>

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