VICTORIA - BC Housing has secured the temporary use of Mount Tolmie Hospital in Saanich to ensure everyone maintains their accommodation, as the lease on Save-On-Foods Memorial Centre temporary shelter could not be extended.
"We've seen first-hand the positive impact safe and secure shelter have on people experiencing homelessness, as well as the broader community," said David Eby, Attorney General and Minister Responsible for Housing. "We have worked hard over the last year to move people living outdoors inside and we don't want to send people back to living on the streets. This new Mount Tolmie Hospital shelter will allow guests to have rooms of their own and ensure they can continue to access the supports they need so that their journey to wellness is not interrupted."
Starting on June 7, 2021, BC Housing will prepare to relocate all of the 43 shelter guests to Mount Tolmie Hospital, which is not currently in use, and other existing housing sites in the Capital Regional District. The move is necessary as BC Housing's lease of the centre could not be extended because the arena is hosting the International Basketball Federation (FIBA) Olympic Qualifying Tournament, scheduled for June 29-July 4, 2021.
PHS Community Services Society will transition from the service operator of the arena to Mount Tolmie Hospital, located at 3690 Richmond Rd. This continuity of staffing will minimize disruption to the existing guests, many of whom have been living together for several months and have developed a strong sense of community.
PHS will ensure the same established support services continue at the hospital, including daily meals, 24-7 staffing and health and wellness supports. Island Health will also transition its health supports from the arena to Mount Tolmie. This includes harm-reduction and clinical services. Residents moving from the arena will now have their own secure rooms with doors.
Island Health and BC Housing have entered into an agreement that enables BC Housing to occupy the hospital for use as a temporary shelter for the next 12 months. The long-term goal for those living in the temporary shelter is to secure suitable supportive housing in the Capital Regional District.
"I want to thank the arena's owners, GSL Group, for their support over the past year while the arena was used as a temporary shelter and BC Housing for taking immediate action to secure an alternative location," Eby said.
BC Housing will engage with the community in the coming weeks to address questions about the new temporary shelter. More information about the project can be found here: https://letstalkhousingbc.ca/saanich-mount-tolmie-hospital
Fred Haynes, mayor, District of Saanich -
"Addressing housing challenges is a priority for the District of Saanich, and we understand BC Housing is working diligently to bring forward more supportive housing solutions to our community. Increasing the number of housing options in the region is important, and we look forward to seeing this project take shape."
Lisa Helps, mayor, City of Victoria -
"This is yet another example of the power of partnerships and how much we can accomplish by working together. I'm grateful for the continued outpouring of support for housing and providing supports for the most vulnerable members of our communities. My thanks to the Province, BC Housing, Saanich and Island Health for working together to support people on their pathway to permanent housing."
Leah Hollins, board chair, Island Health -
"Safe and supportive housing contributes to improved health outcomes, which has never been more important than during our current dual COVID-19 and drug poisoning public health emergencies. The investment today will improve the health of our residents and communities."
A map showing the location of all announced provincially funded housing projects in B.C. is available online: https://www.bchousing.org/homes-for-BC
To learn about the steps the Province is taking to tackle the housing crisis and deliver affordable homes for British Columbians, visit: https://workingforyou.gov.bc.ca/
Ministry of Attorney General and Responsible for Housing