Victoria Cool Aid Society | Uncategorized Archives - Victoria Cool Aid Society

Let’s Do Lunch!

Let’s do Lunch invites you and your group of friends, family or colleagues to volunteer and serve a nutritious meal to Cool Aid clients during the lunch hour. The meal service will take place at the former Tally Ho dining room at 3020 Douglas and will serve lunch for up to 50 clients.

For people living in poverty, simply knowing where their next meal is coming from can be a huge relief. While Cool Aid is proud to be able to provide our clients with a light breakfast and supper, we are not funded to provide lunch. Unfortunately this means many of our residents go hungry until evening as they are unable to afford the cost of groceries and food bank availability is limited.

That’s why Cool Aid is launching Let’s do Lunch, a new pilot program to create opportunities for members of the community to connect with our clients and provide a much-needed mid-day meal.

The Program

The meal will be prepared by the Cool Aid kitchen and your group of 4 or 5 people will arrive at the Tally Ho shortly before noon to plate and provide table service.

The cost is $200. This covers lunch for 50 people.

Lunch is served from 12:00-12:45. It is recommended you arrive 15 minutes early.

Please wear comfortable footwear. You will be provided with clean aprons.

Location is 3020 Douglas (former Tally Ho). Parking is free.

To book your lunch please contact Lori Angelini at 250-414-4799 or langelini@CoolAid.org.

 


Rachel George, Director

Rachel Yacaaʔał George is Nuu-chah-nulth from Ahousaht First Nation. She is a PhD Candidate, and Sessional Instructor at the University of Victoria, and holds a Master’s degree from the University of Amsterdam in Genocide Studies. Her doctoral research examines the efficacy of redress mechanisms, including truth and reconciliation commissions, to facilitate justice for Indigenous communities, and her teaching has been focused on Indigenous politics, reconciliation and resilience.

Prior to beginning her PhD, Rachel served as the Research Coordinator for the Maine Wabanaki-State Child Welfare Truth and Reconciliation Commission where she worked closely with Wabanaki communities to share their stories with the commission.

Rachel is excited to be on the Board of the Victoria Cool Aid Society and working with an organization dedicated to finding community-based solutions to end homelessness.

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Beverley Bowes, Director

Beverley’s professional background is in communications, policy analysis and development, and board governance. She retired in 2015 from her position as Secretary to the Municipal Pension Board of Trustees and manager of their Secretariat. She led the team that provided administrative and professional services to the Board.

Over the 20 years prior to her work in the pension industry, Beverley provided communications advice and services to a range of clients including municipal, regional, provincial and federal governments, service organizations and businesses.

Beverley lives in the Burnside Gorge neighbourhood and is a past Director of the Burnside Gorge Community Association and past Chair of the association’s safety committee. In that capacity, she organized community meetings focused on public safety and security, and developed public education and information sessions, in addition to providing community liaison with Island Health, Victoria City Council, VicPD and Block Watch.

Beverley has served in various volunteer positions including strata corporation vice-president, Block Watch co-captain and seniors’ advocate. She looks forward to this opportunity to continue giving back to her community.

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Jeremy Belyea, Director

A proud member of the Lake Babine Nation, Jeremy comes from the Raven clan, and sits as a guest of the Fireweed clan in Wet’suwet’en and Gitxsan territory.

An ardent advocate for children’s rights, he has pursued his passion for supporting children and youth initially as a Clinician, then Clinical Director of Mental Health and Addictions services for several years. Realizing a need for larger systemic changes to support children and youth living outside of their family home/in government-foster care, he took a position as an Advocate with the BC Representative for Children & Youth. After nearly five years of advocating for hundreds of children and youth, an opportunity arose to support the work of BC’s Delegated Aboriginal Agencies at the Ministry for Children and Family Development. As the Director of Operations – Aboriginal Services Branch/Provincial Director of Child Welfare, he’s spent the last year supporting BC’s 24 Delegated Aboriginal Agencies as the strive to provide culturally relevant services and supports to First Nations, Inuit and Metis children, youth, and their families all across the province.

Pharmacy Inquiry

Please use the form below to let us know your pharmacy needs. You can also reach the pharmacy at:

  • Access Health Centre, 713 Johnson Street, 1st Floor, 250-385-8469, pharmacy@CoolAid.org
  • Hours: Mon, Tue 9 – 6 pm, Wed, Thur 9 – 8 pm, Fri 9 – 3 pm, Sat 10 – 2 pm, Closed Sundays and statutory holidays

Cool Aid Pharmacy

The Cool Aid Pharmacy, conveniently located in Cool Aid’s Community Health Centre at 713 Johnson Street downtown, provides prescription medicines for thousands of patients. If you are a patient of the Health Centre, or even if you are not, you are welcome to get your medicines with us.

Let us know your needs by filling out our online Pharmacy Inquiry Form.

Who We Are

Health and wellness is our number one priority here at the Cool Aid Pharmacy and Health Centre. We have offered services since 2001, with a team that is experienced, knowledgeable and professional. We believe that everyone should have access to affordable medications. We also believe that everyone should be able to safely and effectively take their medications in the way that best suits their needs.

Why Choose Cool Aid?

By receiving your prescription needs through the Cool Aid Pharmacy, you will directly be supporting the vision and goals of our Community Health Centre to reduce the significant barriers that can affect basic access to health services. The Cool Aid Pharmacy provides:

  • prescription and over-the-counter medications affordable for all
  • full access to our pharmacy team with excellent hours of availability
  • accuracy, efficacy, and safety with all dispensed medications

Complimentary Delivery

Our free delivery to some Cool Aid tenants includes:

  • blister packaging of medications, vitamins, minerals, supplements
  • scheduled weekly deliveries
  • coordination with your doctor about medication management
  • flexible coverage for medication to meet your needs

Give us a call at 250-383-5934 to see if we are able to deliver to your home.


Location, Hours and Contact Info

Access Health Centre, 713 Johnson Street, 1st Floor, 250-385-8469, pharmacy@CoolAid.org

Hours: Mon, Tue 9 – 6 pm, Wed, Thur 9 – 8 pm, Fri 9 – 3 pm, Sat 10 – 2 pm, Closed Sundays and statutory holidays

Pharmacy Inquiry Form

 

Sharla Godmaire, Director

Sharla Godmaire is a Chartered Professional Accountant who works with a wide variety of clients in public practice. Her focus remains on corporate tax, but she has also gained experience in the taxation of trusts and individuals, as well as audit and review engagements. Sharla moved to Victoria in 2010 to attend the University of Victoria, where she obtained her Bachelor of Commerce and quickly grew attached to the city.

Sharla is passionate about helping others and improving quality of life. She is excited to be involved with the Victoria Cool Aid Society and their diverse programs that help the community.

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Tally Ho – Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

Why Do This at the Tally Ho?

Why was the Tally Ho site chosen by BC Housing and Cool Aid?

What are the Next Steps for Redevelopment of the site?

What is the timeline for moving residents into the Tally Ho site?

Who Will Live At and Visit the Tally Ho?

Who will live in these apartments?

Will guests be allowed at the Tally Ho?

What are the expectations of the residents?

Will the people living at the Tally Ho be employed?

Will you allow pets at the Tally Ho?

Tell Us About Support Services At the Tally Ho

What is “Supportive Housing”?

What kind of on-site supports will be provided to the supportive housing residents?

Does Cool Aid have any measurable results or evidence to show that your programs and services are successful?

Will there be a safe injection site at the Tally Ho or any drop-in services?

What does “low barrier” mean?

How Will You Ensure the Safety of Neighbours?

How will you maintain the safety and security of all residents if there are high needs residents on-site?

How will Cool Aid assist with maintaining safety and security in our neighbourhoods?

Will there be security on-site?

Communication and Contact Information

How will Cool Aid and BC Housing communicate with us as the redevelopment plans progress?

If I have any questions or concerns who should I contact?


Why Do This at the Tally Ho?

Why was the Tally Ho site chosen by BC Housing and Cool Aid?

The Tally Ho was purchased in March 2017, as part of the Provincial Government’s housing initiatives. Given the current real estate market conditions in Victoria, finding suitable sites for supportive and affordable rental housing is challenging, particularly ones that can be repurposed quickly as an emergency response.

The Tally Ho site was unique in that it offered the opportunity to accommodate urgently needed supportive housing for the community with only minor renovations.  At the same time, the redevelopment potential of the site means that there is an opportunity to achieve a higher density, mixed use (both commercial and residential) on the site.

The goal of Cool Aid’s redevelopment plan is twofold: to develop an asset which achieves a mix of supportive housing and affordable rental housing on the site; and which honours the community’s goals and vision for the Burnside Gorge area.  Cool Aid Society will collaborate with the neighbourhood on the visioning for this development.

The key factors which contribute to making the Tally Ho an appropriate site for supportive housing under the Temporary Use Permit include:

  • A controlled access to the building where staff can easily interact and support residents and neighbours to ensure that security is maintained.
  • Internal spaces for use by the residents which decreases loitering outside of the building.
  • A commercial kitchen and dining area for meal preparation and dining.
  • Close proximity to the employment, counselling and health care services which Cool Aid provides downtown.
  • Close proximity to Mayfair Mall, many bus routes and Topaz Park.


What are the Next Steps for Redevelopment of the site?

Re-development of the site will be led by the Victoria Cool Aid Society.

Cool Aid is currently holding a series of community meetings with local residents to further define the vision for the site.  The format of these meeting are interactive and focussed on exploring the community’s vision for this site and their neighbourhood.  To see when the next meeting is being held please visit www.CoolAid.org/tallyho.

The timeline for re-development of the site is:

  • Completion of planning and schematic design process: April 2018
  • Completion of full schematic design and rezoning process: October 2018
  • Completion design development and contract drawings process: March 2019
  • Completion of contract tendering and Building Permit: May 2019
  • Construction and occupancy: November 2020.


What is the timeline for moving residents into the Tally Ho site?

The Tally Ho is currently being renovated to make it more appropriate for housing people for up to three years. We expect that all 52 apartments will be filled on or before March 31, 2018.


Who Will Live At and Visit the Tally Ho?

Who will live in these apartments?

The 52 small apartments are intended for a wide variety of needs and ages, including mental health conditions, addictions, head injuries and fetal alcohol syndrome for men and women who have been homeless and require housing and support services.

All people housed at the Tally Ho will have been previously homeless, with 36 individuals scheduled to move from the Choices Transitional Home operated by Our Place (closing by March 31, 2018) and 12 individuals moving from Mount Edwards operated by Cool Aid (they don’t meet the upcoming age or recovery restrictions).

We know through the use of the Vulnerability Assessment Tool (VAT) that of these residents 43% have low support needs, 42% have medium support needs and 15% have high support needs.

Demographically, we know that 37% are female and 63% are male. Regarding their ages, 8% are in their 20’sp; 27% in their 30’s; 27% in their 40’s; and 38% are over 50.

Both of these resident groups have been stabilized in their current communities and are motivated to continue to work on their individual goals.


Will guests be allowed at the Tally Ho?

Cool Aid’s guest policies are different from building to building and are negotiated with the tenants and based on the advice of on-site staff.  All of our housing buildings are covered under the Residential Tenancy Act which supports the rights and responsibilities of tenants including the ability to restrict unwanted visitors on a case-by-case basis.

The current residents of both Choices and Mount Edwards have collectively agreed to restrict guest access to their respective buildings.


What are the expectations of the residents?

At the Tally Ho, there will be dedicated staff (Client Service Workers and Residential Service Workers) who will work with residents to develop and implement their own personal goal plans for improving health, gaining meaningful employment, and reintegrating into community. These plans could also include strategies and training opportunities around addiction treatment, trauma recovery, behaviour management, volunteering and ready-to-rent programs.

At minimum, Cool Aid requires that all residents respect the safety and security of other residents, guests and staff in and around our buildings, including our local neighbourhood communities. We work closely with our area police departments and cooperate fully with any investigations or concerns that arise. Our goal is to support our residents to be successful in maintaining housing, reducing antisocial behaviours, and positively contributing to the community. If problems persist, other options such as transferring to another building may be considered.


Will the people living at the Tally Ho be employed?

A number of people who live in Cool Aid housing, including some of those who will be moving into the Tally Ho, have regular jobs, as well as casual work. (This is also true of people staying in emergency shelters, like Rock Bay Landing and Sandy Merriman House.)

As well, Cool Aid has a longstanding policy of providing employment training opportunities for residents who want to gain some skills and earn a bit of money. Their janitorial contributions help build community and pride within the apartment building as well as providing new skills.

Other Cool Aid programs also provide employment training and placement opportunities for our residents and other clients:

  • Cool Aid’s Community Casual Labour Pool provides a free placement service for employers and casual workers who are available, trained and ready to work, including home owners who need help gardening, moving or with other needs.
  • The Downtown Community Centre, operated by Cool Aid at 755 Pandora Avenue near City Hall, provides employment training opportunities, lifeskills courses and healthy recreation opportunities for our residents and others. The free Community Kitchen program, for example, provides training in nutrition, food purchasing, preparation and storage, and leads to a Food Safe certification for participants.
  • The Beacon Services-Cool Aid Thrift Shop at 715 Pandora Avenue provides Cool Aid clients with employment training opportunities in retail operations as well as an inexpensive place to purchase clothing, household goods and other needed essentials.


Will you allow pets at the Tally Ho?

Pets are very important to people who have been homeless which is why all Cool Aid housing buildings, including the Tally Ho, welcome our clients’ pets.

One of Cool Aid’s supporters is the Sooke Animal Food and Rescue Society (SAFARS), whose donors provide a significant amount of food for pets who are living with Cool Aid clients.

As well, Cool Aid has set up a “Pets In Need Endowment” at the Victoria Foundation to help our clients with some of their pet expenses, such as operations, thanks to a generous bequest in his will from the late Carl Young.


Tell Us About Support Services At the Tally Ho

What is “Supportive Housing”?

Supportive housing is subsidized housing with on-site staff to support the tenants. Professional housing workers help clients stay well by providing a range of on-site services including: community development, meals, laundry, life skills training, connections to primary health care, mental health and substance use services.


What kind of on-site supports will be provided to the supportive housing residents?

This building is well supported by a larger-than-usual complement of professional staff, which includes a minimum of at least two housing workers on site 24/7/365, as well as an on-site Team Leader and a Client Services Worker to help tenants with their long-term plans. As well, kitchen staff, visiting nurses and other Cool Aid staff will be in the building to deliver services regularly. John Sherratt, the Housing Manager responsible for this building will be onsite regularly and is available by email: jSherratt@CoolAid.org

  • Professional staff assist residents with goal setting and case planning, including assistance with employment and housing readiness.
  • One hot nutritious meal and a light breakfast are provided daily.
  • Health supports are on-site weekly. Addiction and recovery supports are provided including referrals to other organizations such as Umbrella or programs like AA, NA or LifeRing.
  • Life skills programming include financial and budgeting education.
  • Cool Aid will create a “clean and safe” team to support pre-employment goals and help keep the neighbourhood free of litter and other debris.


Does Cool Aid have any measurable results or evidence to show that your programs and services are successful?

Yes, Cool Aid utilizes a Balanced Scorecard methodology to measure our progress towards meeting our strategic objectives and reports out annually to the community. Cool Aid has also been featured in local and national research as an example of best practices in supportive housing. There are also a number of reports and research papers on our website highlighting the effectiveness of supportive housing in addressing issues of homelessness.


Will there be a safe injection site at the Tally Ho or any drop-in services?

No. There will not be a safe injection site at the Tally Ho, nor any drop-in services. All services are for residents only.


What does “low barrier” mean?

Low barrier does not mean no or low expectations. Low barrier housing and services means that a person can access them no matter their level of need. Insisting that people become “clean” before providing them with safe and secure housing simply keeps people homeless for longer – leading to more problems in neighbourhood and more cost to the system.

What works better is harm reduction and housing first, where people are accepted no matter what their condition, helped to stabilize in housing, and then encouraged to work on whatever challenges have caused them to become homeless.

As well, residents who are still active in their addictions are allowed to use within their own apartments rather than out in the community. Residents are encouraged to use safely by engaging in a buddy system or alerting staff to check in on them.


How Will You Ensure the Safety of Neighbours?


How will you maintain the safety and security of all residents if there are high needs residents on-site?

Professional staff onsite 24/7, security cameras, attention to exterior lighting and landscaping and our experience providing secure housing make this possible.

Cool Aid currently manages 13 apartment buildings in Langford, Victoria and Saanich, for people with a variety of levels of support need in addition to their need for low-cost, safe and secure housing. With two noted exceptions, the buildings have zero impact on their neighbourhoods. While this may sound counter-intuitive, the fact that people have been able to obtain housing, in many cases after years of being homeless, motivates important changes in their behaviours, as does the support of our professional staff helping them to recover and stabilize.

We invite you to have a look any one of our apartment buildings, which you can read about at www.CoolAid.org/housing, and check one out close to you. If you would like a formal tour, please contact our Director of Residential Services, Don McTavish at 250-383-1977 or dmctavish@CoolAid.org.


How will Cool Aid assist with maintaining safety and security in our neighbourhoods?

The operating agreement with BC Housing includes funding for two staff members to be on-site 24 hours/ 7 days per week.  The contact information for the building will be made available to our community neighbors so that we can respond to concerns quickly. Should any issues arise that necessitate emergency services, Cool Aid staff will contact police or ambulance as needed.

Cool Aid Society staff are trained to manage any situations that might arise in our supportive housing settings.  It should be noted that such incidents almost always occur within the building and not in the neighbourhood.


Will there be security on-site?

Cool Aid is exploring with BC Housing the feasibility of a shared security service, on a trial basis between the Douglas Street Community property and the Tally Ho.


Communication and Contact Information

How will Cool Aid and BC Housing communicate with us as the redevelopment plans progress?

Cool Aid and BC Housing will use a variety of means to communicate with neighbours, including:

  • Community consultations to co-develop a vision for the property that fits with neighbourhood values. For the next meeting date visit CoolAid.org/tallyho.
  • Letter drops to nearby neighbours.
  • Communication with the Burnside Gorge Community Association and its Land Use Committee.
  • Stories in the mass media.
  • Cool Aid’s social media channels, which can be found at CoolAid.org/social.


If I have any questions or concerns who should I contact?

Once operations are up and running at the Tally Ho we will provide a 24/7 contact number for on-site staff.

If you are not satisfied with the response you receive, please feel free to contact:

John Sherratt, Manager, Supportive Housing (Tally Ho, Cedar Grove, Mount Edwards), 250-383-1977 or jsherratt@CoolAid.org

Don McTavish, Director of Residential Services, 250-383-1977 or dmctavish@CoolAid.org

or Kathy Stinson, CEO, 250-383-1977 or kstinson@CoolAid.org

You can also contact Don McTavish if you would like a tour of the Tally Ho or any of our supportive housing buildings.

 

Learn more about Cool Aid at www.CoolAid.org and the Tally Ho at www.CoolAid.org/tallyho.

Cool Views 2018 – 50th Anniversary

View Cool Views 2018 — 50th Anniversary Edition.

Refreshed Cool Aid logo

draft Cedar Grove FAQ

Frequently Asked Questions are below.

Victoria Cool Aid Society builds homes, lives and community. We create opportunities for people who are homeless or living in poverty. We make a difference through housing, health care, support and emergency shelters. Founded in 1968, Cool Aid helps 10,000 people in the Capital Region every year, at 16 locations in Langford, Victoria and Saanich – including 12 supportive housing apartment buildings. The Society’s major campaign is “Help End Homelessness”, to build an additional 360 apartments for people in the community who have no home — including our proposed redevelopment of the Cedar Grove property.

The Cedar Grove property at 210 Gorge Road East was originally designed as a motel, and while we have been fortunate to house 21 individuals there since 2006, the property is poorly designed for permanent residence. A redevelopment provides an opportunity to add additional affordable housing for the neighbourhood, create a tasteful new building that fits into the community, and to create a better living space for everyone.

The FAQ below (Frequently Asked Questions) has been prepared to answer some of the most common questions we hear about Cedar Grove.

Contact information can be found below should you want to speak to someone from Cool Aid or are interested in a tour of Cedar Grove or other Cool Aid programs; an opportunity to meet our staff and tenants.


FAQ – Frequently Asked Questions

Click on a question to read the answer.

Who Lives at Cedar Grove?

What Will the Neighbourhood Impacts Be?

What About Neighbourhood Consultation and Rezoning?


Answers to Questions


Question:
Who will live in these apartments?

Answer: There is going to be a mix of tenants at Cedar Grove.

Most of the apartments (50 of 81) will be for people who cannot afford regular Victoria rents, including students, seniors and low income workers.

The remaining apartments are reserved for the existing 21 tenants who wish to move back to Cedar Grove when the construction is completed and for another 10 adults. These 31 apartments are intended for people with a wide variety of needs and ages, including mental health conditions, addictions, head injuries and fetal alcohol syndrome, for men and women who have been homeless and require housing and support services.

Back to questions near top


Question:
Will you allow pets at Cedar Grove or do you at any of your other apartment buildings?

Answer: Most Cool Aid properties, including Cedar Grove, welcome our tenant’s pets.

In fact, one of Cool Aid’s supporters is the Sooke Animal Food and Rescue Society (SAFARS), whose donors provide a significant amount of food for pets who are living with Cool Aid clients.

As well, Cool Aid has set up a “Pets In Need Endowment” at the Victoria Foundation to help our clients with some of their pet expenses, such as operations, thanks to a generous bequest in his will from the late Carl Young.

Back to questions near top


Question:
Will the people living at Cedar Grove be employed?

Answer: It might surprise neighbours to learn that many, perhaps a majority, of the people who will live at Cedar Grove will have regular jobs, as well as casual work.

As well, Cool Aid has a longstanding policy of providing employment training opportunities for residents who want to gain some skills and earn a bit of money. Their janitorial contributions help build community and pride within the apartment buildings as well as providing new skills.

Other Cool Aid programs also provide employment training and placement opportunities for our residents and other clients:

  • Cool Aid’s Community Casual Labour Pool provides a free placement service for employers and casual workers who are available, trained and ready to work, including home owners who need help gardening, moving or with other needs.
  • The Downtown Community Centre, operated by Cool Aid at 755 Pandora Avenue near City Hall, provides employment training opportunities, lifeskills courses and healthy recreation opportunities for our residents and others. The free Community Kitchen program, for example, provides training in nutrition, food purchasing, preparation and storage, and leads to a Food Safe certification for participants.

The Beacon Services-Cool Aid Thrift Shop at 715 Pandora Avenue provides Cool Aid clients with employment training opportunities in retail operations as well as an inexpensive place to purchase clothing, household goods and other needed essentials.

Back to questions near top


Question:
 Where will the current residents live when the existing buildings are demolished?

Answer: Cool Aid is committed to ensuring that no one is made homeless when the old buildings are demolished. We will offer existing tenants the opportunity to move into other Cool Aid buildings and apartments operated by other local, non-profit organizations. As well — every tenant will have the right to claim a new apartment at the new Cedar Grove if they wish to return.

Back to questions near top


Question:
Does Cool Aid have any measurable results or evidence to show that your programs and services are successful?

Answer: Yes, Cool Aid utilizes a Balanced Scorecard methodology to measure our progress towards meeting our strategic objectives and reports out annually to the community. Cool Aid has also been featured in local and national research as an example of best practices in supportive housing.

Back to questions near top


Question:
Will there be any drop in services  at Cedar Grove?

Answer: No. Support staff and services are only for tenants.

Back to questions near top


Question:
How will staff support the residents and neighbourhood at Cedar Grove?

Answer: Cedar Grove will be staffed 24/7 by Cool Aid’s professional housing support workers, who are there to assist the tenants and help out with any neighbourhood concerns and suggestions.

Back to questions near top


Questions:
What are your expectations of the residents?

Answers: At minimum, Cool Aid requires that all residents behave in appropriate ways both in the building and the neighbourhood. Any resident that is unable to be a good neighbour will be asked and assisted to help change any antisocial behaviours. If they are unsuccessful, the person may be moved to another building or evicted if necessary.

Back to questions near top


Question: Is there a process for neighbourhood input and consultation?

Answer: Cedar Grove is currently zoned for “transient” housing, i.e. hotel zoning.

Before the old buildings are demolished and a brand new one is constructed, there will be a full rezoning process as well as a development permit application, both of which allow for community input and consultation. These processes will be attended to by Cool Aid and managed by the City of Victoria and the Burnside Gorge Community Association.

Cool Aid looks forward to working with the Community Association and neighbours to design the best building possible for this location which allows for affordable and supportive housing to continue at 210 Gorge Road East and provides more housing for people with low incomes.

Back to questions near top


Additional Information:

Cedar Grove main page

Tours or more info about Cool Aid: Alan Rycroft, arycroft@CoolAid.org, 250-414-4781

Additional Housing Campaign Information

Help End Homeless campaign to house 360 people

Nance’s Salute to Sandy Merriman House

Walking into Sandy Merriman House, the day we were to interview Nance, we were instantly greeted with the sweet melody of a guitar and an unknown singer. Once led down the stairs into a quiet room, there was Nance though, with a guitar on her lap and a note on her tongue — we had found the source of that sweet melody!

Nance is a well-known singer in the online world. Having recorded multiple songs to the virtual world over the past several years, and written hundreds of songs as well, she is a lover of all things music. Ironically, Nance has never sung here in Victoria. We hope that you will take a listen to her song and share it with everyone too.

Besides her phenomenal singing voice, Nance has a warmth and kindness that reaches out from her the moment you meet. She is currently staying at Cool Aid’s women’s shelter, Sandy Merriman House, and has made connections not only with the staff, but with the people living there too.

“The staff here are so friendly—they are amazing and that is why I wrote the song. The word Merriman, Merriman kept tumbling through my head so I started writing. The song came together in less than ten minutes and it became a kind of salute to the staff. It is the least I could do to thank them and all they have done for me during this difficult time in my life.”

Nance and her partner found themselves unexpectedly evicted when some unforeseen medical complications left them with some large bills. They had a short time to collect their things, pack up, and found themselves on the street. However, through a friend of a friend, they were put in touch with Kim at Our Place Society. Kim knew instantly that the best place for them to be at was Sandy Merriman House. Quickly putting things into action, Nance and her partner gained shelter, resources and a community in a very short period of time.

“We are so grateful… we have a community here.”


To hear more from our interview with Nance, check it out her story  along with our other client stories. Plus, don’t forget to check out our social media feeds and share her song!

Spunky Susan Has A Lot of Life Left to Live

Susan has been a client of Cool Aid for the past six years. She is a wonderful mix of spunk, generosity, happiness and fun all bundled up in her petite, five-foot frame. At 67, Susan has already done so much in her life — but as she told us, “I am going to live to 103 — I still have a lot of living left to do!”

Susan Next Steps 2017Susan spent most of her early life raising her two kids and working in various restaurants. Her passion is found in cooking and it turned into a career for her when she was younger. She had worked as a line cook, a chef, a server — you name it she did it! Still to this day, Susan loves to cook, and her dream is to be able to one day offer cooking lessons, free of charge, to those in assisted living facilities.

Her story takes a turn though, from raising kids and cooking, to having go through two brain aneurisms and a very serious brain surgery several years ago. Over time and other circumstances, this lead to Susan finding herself homeless.

As Susan told us: “If you had told me six years ago I would have been homeless, I would have said you were nuts! You know — it all happened so quickly.”

But Susan didn’t let this slow her down one bit. Being put in contact with Cool Aid staff, they worked hard to find her a home, a community she could be a part of, and to help her begin to re-establish her life.

“My friends Vic and Cheryl — they are my walking, talking Angels!” Susan was quick to tell us.

“Cool Aid has been wonderful — they have helped me so much with finding shelter and all of that. They are great!”

Susan holds a special place in the staff’s hearts. She is always teasing other residents, telling stories, and of course, cooking. Susan’s message to everyone is to keep living life to the fullest — to be grateful for each and every day you get out of bed in the morning, no matter what your circumstances. Her full interview and message to everyone can be viewed here:

To say the least — we could all learn a bit from Susan, and remember to be thankful for everything life has to offer us — no matter where we may find ourselves tomorrow.

DRAFT Mount Edwards Court FAQ

Mount Edwards FAQ

Frequently Asked Questions are below.

Victoria Cool Aid Society builds homes, lives and community. We create opportunities for people who are homeless or living in poverty. We make a difference through housing, health care, support and emergency shelters. Founded in 1968, Cool Aid helps 10,000 people in the Capital Region every year, at 16 locations in Langford, Victoria and Saanich – including 12 supportive housing apartment buildings. The Society’s major campaign is “Help End Homelessness”, to build an additional 360 apartments for people in the community who have no home — and Mount Edwards were the first new ones available for occupancy.

The Mount Edwards property at 1002 Vancouver Street is well designed for the purpose – and currently houses 38 individuals on the main floor. Other features include a dining area, lounge, offices for support staff and a large interior courtyard.

The FAQ below (Frequently Asked Questions) has been prepared to answer some of the most common questions we hear about Mount Edwards Court.

Contact information can be found below should you want to speak to someone from Cool Aid or are interested in a tour of existing Mount Edwards or other Cool Aid programs; an opportunity to meet our staff and tenants.


FAQ – Frequently Asked Questions

Click on a question to read the answer.

Who Lives at Mount Edwards Court?

What About Mental Illness, Drugs and Addictions?

Aren’t Neighbourhood Impacts Unacceptable?

What About Neighbourhood Consultation and Rezoning?


Answers to Questions


Question:
Who will live in these apartments?

Answer: The profile of residents in Mount Edwards is very similar to the existing profile of residents served in all of Cool Aid’s other ten supportive housing buildings: 70% male and 30% female; about 40% between 19 and 39 years old, 47% between 40 and 55 years, and 13% over 55.

All people housed in Mount Edwards Court have been previously homeless.

The 38 small apartments are intended for a wide variety of needs and ages, including mental health conditions, addictions, head injuries and fetal alcohol syndrome for men and women who have been homeless and require housing and support services. Cool Aid’s job is to find appropriate, permanent housing for all residents.

Back to questions near top

Question: What are your screening criteria for Mount Edwards residents?

Answer: The screening process is a complex one that includes:

  • the use of a vulnerability assessment tool
  • interviewing the prospective tenants
  • talking with our staff, other service providers and helping professionals who know the candidates, and
  • weighing their suitability for the current mix of residents and the neighbourhood

The goal is to create a mix of residents that is balanced and manageable, while providing a high level of support for those who need it.

Back to questions near top

Question: Why don’t you do Criminal Record checks on prospective tenants? How can you ensure that sex offenders are screened out?

In British Columbia, landlords and property managers acting on their behalf must adhere to the privacy rules contained in the BC Personal Information Protection Act (“PIPA”). These guidelines are intended to assist landlords and property managers in discharging their duties under the Residential Tenancy Act (“RTA”) in a manner that respects the privacy of tenants and promotes transparency in the operation of landlord and tenant relationships.

A landlord cannot as a condition of renting or providing any service to a tenant, ask for consent to collect personal information beyond what is necessary to provide tenancy or that service. Requiring a criminal records check is not reasonably necessary.

Sex offenders are on strict orders that prohibit them from being in areas where children are in close proximity. They must report their address to their probation / parole officer who would preclude them from residing at Mount Edwards; or indeed any apartment building in close proximity to a school.

Back to questions near top


Question: How are you finding permanent homes for the people now living in Mount Edwards Court, when there are so few vacant apartments in Victoria and considering how expensive they are?

Answer: This question underscores the fact that there are currently not enough affordable rentals in the Capital Region. In the long term, the solution is continued construction of permanent affordable and supportive housing by all levels of government.

In the short term, Cool Aid is committed to finding permanent homes for the residents living in Mount Edwards Court. We do this by moving some of the residents who need a higher level of support into our other eleven apartment buildings, some into apartments operated by other non-profit organizations, and some into regular “market” apartments by subsidizing their rental costs and providing on-site support as needed. As of February 2017, twenty residents had been moved out of Mount Edwards into permanent housing.

Cool Aid’s long-term goal is, with community support, to build 360 more supportive housing apartments to help address this critical community need. Mount Edwards apartments were the first.

Back to questions near top

Question: Are guests allowed at Mount Edwards Court?

Answer: Cool Aid does not allow guests into the building to ensure that residents feel safe in their homes.

Back to questions near top

Question: I know a lot of street people have pets. Do you allow pets at Mount Edwards Court or any of your other eleven apartment buildings?

Answer: Pets are very important to people who have been homeless which is why most Cool Aid properties, including Mount Edwards, welcome our clients’ pets.

In fact, one of Cool Aid’s supporters is the Sooke Animal Food and Rescue Society (SAFARS), whose donors provide a significant amount of food for pets who are living with Cool Aid clients.

As well, Cool Aid has set up a “Pets In Need Endowment” at the Victoria Foundation to help our clients with some of their pet expenses, such as operations, thanks to a generous bequest in his will from the late Carl Young.

Back to questions near top

Question: Are the people living at Mount Edwards Court employed?

Answer: It might surprise neighbours to learn that a significant number of people who live in Cool Aid housing, including Mount Edwards, have regular jobs, as well as casual work. (This is also true of people staying in emergency shelters, like Rock Bay Landing and Sandy Merriman House.)

As well, Cool Aid has a longstanding policy of providing employment training opportunities for residents who want to gain some skills and earn a bit of money. Their janitorial contributions help build community and pride within the apartment buildings as well as providing new skills.

Other Cool Aid programs also provide employment training and placement opportunities for our residents and other clients:

  • Cool Aid’s Community Casual Labour Pool provides a free placement service for employers and casual workers who are available, trained and ready to work, including home owners who need help gardening, moving or with other needs.
  • The Downtown Community Centre, operated by Cool Aid at 755 Pandora Avenue near City Hall, provides employment training opportunities, lifeskills courses and healthy recreation opportunities for our residents and others. The free Community Kitchen program, for example, provides training in nutrition, food purchasing, preparation and storage, and leads to a Food Safe certification for participants.

The Beacon Services-Cool Aid Thrift Shop at 715 Pandora Avenue provides Cool Aid clients with employment training opportunities in retail operations as well as an inexpensive place to purchase clothing, household goods and other needed essentials.

Back to questions near top

Question: What are the expected outcomes for your residents?

Answer: Cool Aid’s agreement with the Province is quite clear about the expected outcomes for our residents. We are required to find permanent housing and any necessary supports that are needed for our Mount Edwards residents and help them move out. During that process, Cool Aid supports them in a variety of ways to improve their wellbeing, including help in locating employment, addiction treatment and improved health care.

As of February 2017, twenty of our Mount Edwards residents have been successfully moved into permanent housing elsewhere.

Back to questions near top

Question: Does Cool Aid have any measurable results or evidence to show that your programs and services are successful?

Yes, Cool Aid utilizes a Balanced Scorecard methodology to measure our progress towards meeting our strategic objectives and reports out annually to the community. Cool Aid has also been featured in local and national research as an example of best practices in supportive housing.

Back to questions near top


Question:
Is it true that low barrier housing has been found to be detrimental to drug addiction recovery?

Answer: Perhaps counter-intuitively, the opposite has in fact been found. Insisting that people become “clean” before providing them with safe and secure housing simply keeps people homeless for longer – leading to more problems in neighbourhoods and more cost to taxpayers.

What works better is harm reduction and housing first, where people are accepted no matter what their condition, helped to stabilize in housing, and then encouraged to work on whatever challenges have caused them to become homeless.

Back to questions near top


Question:
Are there policies requiring residents to take prescribed medication for mental health conditions, and if so is this enforced through supervision?

Answer: One of the important roles that our round-the-clock Housing Support Workers provide is medication monitoring. As well, they interact with tenants every day to ensure that they are doing well and have all the support they need. When outside services are required, such as an ambulance, they are called in.

Back to questions near top


Question:
Will there be a safe injection site at Mount Edward?

Answer: No. There will be no drop-in services at the Mount Edward Court. Services are for residents only.

Back to questions near top


Question:
It sounds dangerous to house people with mental illness and addictions right beside Cathedral School. What assurances can you give that our children will not be harmed?

Answer: Sometimes when Cool Aid proposes a new apartment building neighbours are fearful. They often think that supportive housing looks like an emergency shelter or drop-in service where there can be spillover effects onto the sidewalk. Once we open and neighbours discover that the building is well managed and the residents well supported, there are very few problems or complaints. Check out the locations of our 15 facilities on this map.

Mount Edwards Court has been operating in the neighbourhood for over a year, since February 2016, and there have been zero reported incidents between our residents and school children or other neighbours.

Cool Aid’s own properties on the 700-block of Pandora Avenue provide an excellent example of how supportive housing can work well with neighbours, businesses and children nearby. 112 Cool Aid residents are housed on the block (including eight residents 19 years or younger) – from the same populations that Cool Aid is also housing at Mount Edwards Court.

The Downtown Community Centre is located immediately below/adjacent to 85 apartments for both adults and youth under 19 years.

Every weekday during the school year, groups of daycare providers rent the Community Centre’s gymnasium space for their preschool children to enjoy. As you can see from this letter from a daycare provider, this has been working well for over 20 years for both the preschoolers and Cool Aid residents who benefit from their positive energy and encourage each other to be respectful and positive. To quote the daycare provider from her letter:

“Never in this time [20 years] have I or my children ever felt intimidated by the residents/clients of the facilities. In fact, it is quite the opposite. The residents/clients take great delight in watching the children and sometimes interacting with them – always with care and politeness and only after we have spoken first. I encourage the children to talk to everyone and if too shy to at least smile. The older children now recognize some of the longer time residents/clients and run up to say hi or show a special treasure they have. I really think this benefits the children and the residents/clients.”

Leagh Lawrence, Pedal Pusher Daycare

Additionally, for many years, the site was a host of the Out of the Rain youth shelter, for youth 19 years or younger who are homeless.

Cool Aid would be pleased to tour you through one of our sites, including Mount Edwards Court, so you can see for yourself how well a staffed supportive housing building fits into a neighbourhood even with child and youth services on site.

For tour bookings or information, please call Alan Rycroft at 250-414-4781 or email arycroft@CoolAid.org.

Back to questions near top


Question: Isn’t it true that Mount Edwards is a social experiment, providing supportive housing for such a large group beside an elementary school?

Answer: Mount Edwards Court is not a “social experiment”. There are numerous similiar projects located adjacent to schools in the Lower Mainland including Mole Hill & Lord Roberts Annex and Biltmore & Nightingale, which you can read about by clicking on the links.

Back to questions near top


Question:
How many staff are supporting the residents and neighbourhood at Mount Edwards Court?

Answer: Staffing levels are very high for just 38 residents and the neighbourhood.

Three professional resident support workers is the minimum staffing level at the site – that’s one staff person for each 13 residents — even during the middle of the night!

There is also a full-time Client Support Worker dedicated to assisting residents with their goal planning, such as finding work, a permanent home and healthcare. Additionally there are visiting professionals such as nurses during weekdays. Finally, there is janitorial/maintenance staff and meals are being prepared off-site at our Swift House kitchen.Mount Edwards has much higher staffing levels than Pandora Avenue, where we have successfully housed 112 residents for years with youth and child-serving programs on site every single day, including weekends.

We invite you to speak with our staff at Mount Edwards Court, or any other location, anytime. You can call Mount Edwards any hour of the day at 778-265-3456.

Back to questions near top

Questions: What are your expectations of the residents?

Answers: At Mount Edwards Court, there is a dedicated staff person who works with the residents on developing and implementing their own personal plans for community integration. This could include, for example, goals and strategies to find permanent housing, employment, addiction treatment and improved health care.

Different people have different levels of success in improving their situation and resolving challenges.

At minimum, Cool Aid requires that all residents behave in appropriate ways both in the building and the neighbourhood. Any resident that is unable to be a good neighbour will be asked and assisted to help change any antisocial behaviours. If they are unsuccessful, the person may be moved to another building or evicted if necessary.

Back to questions near top


Question: Is there a process for neighbourhood input and consultation?

Answer: See below (question about zoning).

Back to questions near top


Question:
Anyone who makes a modification to their home has to go through rezoning before proceeding. Why is the Province being allowed to do whatever they want in this building without a required rezoning?

Answer: By law, the Province has the right to avoid municipal zoning regulations.

However, the Province, the City of Victoria and Cool Aid have all publicly committed to a public rezoning process for Mount Edwards Court. In the meantime, members of the public are welcome to contact Cool Aid anytime.

Back to questions near top

Question: The BC Government has announced they intend to open up more apartments at Mount Edwards Count. Is that a good idea?

Answer: First off, the current plan has not changed — and that is to house and support up to 38 people who were formerly homeless and find them permanent housing.

Any other proposed uses of the building are still subject to a public rezoning process that the Province, Cool Aid and the City of Victoria have all committed to undertake.

After the rezoning process is completed, the neighbourhood will know with certainty what the long-term use of Mount Edwards Court will be.Back to questions near top


Additional Mount Edwards Information:

Mount Edwards main page

Housing First Research summary

Call Mount Edwards staff:  778-265-3456

Tours or more info about Cool Aid: Alan Rycroft, arycroft@CoolAid.org, 250-414-4781

 

Additional Housing Campaign Information

Help End Homeless campaign to house 360 people

Relevant definitions


ORIGINAL FAQ

Mount Edwards FAQ

Frequently Asked Questions are below.

Victoria Cool Aid Society builds homes, lives and community. We create opportunities for people who are homeless or living in poverty. We make a difference through housing, health care, support and emergency shelters. Founded in 1968, Cool Aid helps over 9,000 people in the Capital Region every year, at 15 locations in Langford, Victoria and Saanich – including 11 supportive housing apartment buildings. The Society’s major campaign is “Help End Homelessness”, to build an additional 360 apartments for people in the community who have no home.

Our newest apartment building, the Mount Edwards property at 1002 Vancouver Street, is well designed for the purpose – and currently houses 38 individuals on the main floor. Other features include a dining area, lounge, offices for support staff and a large interior courtyard.

The FAQ below (Frequently Asked Questions) has been prepared to answer some of the most common questions we hear about Mount Edwards Court.

Contact information can be found below should you want to speak to someone from Cool Aid or are interested in a tour of existing Cool Aid housing and an opportunity to meet our staff and tenants.


FAQ – Frequently Asked Questions

Click on a question to read the answer. This FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions) is also available as a handout designed for printing and sharing.

Who Will Live There?

What About Mental Illness, Drugs and Addictions?

Aren’t Neighbourhood Impacts Unacceptable?

What About Neighbourhood Consultation and Rezoning?


Answers to Questions


Question:
Who will live in these apartments?

Answer: The profile of residents in Mount Edwards is very similar to the existing profile of residents served in all of Cool Aid’s other ten supportive housing buildings: 70% male and 30% female; about 40% between 19 and 39 years old, 47% between 40 and 55 years, and 13% over 55.

All people housed in Mount Edwards Court have been previously homeless and have stayed at the InTent City at the nearby courthouse.

The 38 small apartments are intended for a wide variety of needs and ages, including mental health conditions, addictions, head injuries and fetal alcohol syndrome for men and women who have been homeless and require housing and support services. Cool Aid’s job is to find appropriate, permanent housing by March 2017 for all residents.

Back to questions near top

Question: What are your screening criteria for Mount Edwards residents?

Answer: The screening process is a complex one that includes:

  • the use of a vulnerability assessment tool
  • interviewing the prospective tenants
  • talking with our staff, other service providers and helping professionals who know the candidates, and
  • weighing their suitability for the current mix of residents in the building

The goal is to create a mix of residents that is balanced and manageable, while providing a high level of support for those who need it.

Back to questions near top

Question: Why don’t you do Criminal Record checks on prospective tenants? How can you ensure that sex offenders are screened out?

In British Columbia, landlords and property managers acting on their behalf must adhere to the privacy rules contained in the BC Personal Information Protection Act (“PIPA”). These guidelines are intended to assist landlords and property managers in discharging their duties under the Residential Tenancy Act (“RTA”) in a manner that respects the privacy of tenants and promotes transparency in the operation of landlord and tenant relationships.

A landlord cannot as a condition of renting or providing any service to a tenant, ask for consent to collect personal information beyond what is necessary to provide tenancy or that service. Requiring a criminal records check is not reasonably necessary.

Sex offenders are on strict orders that prohibit them from being in areas where children are in close proximity. They must report their address to their probation / parole officer who would preclude them from residing at Mount Edwards; or indeed any apartment building in close proximity to Cathedral School.

Back to questions near top


Question: How will you find permanent homes for the people now living in Mount Edwards Court, when there are so few vacant apartments in Victoria and considering how expensive they are?

Answer: This question underscores the fact that there are currently not enough affordable rentals in the Capital Region. In the long term, the solution is continued construction of permanent affordable and supportive housing by all levels of government.

In the short term, Cool Aid is committed to finding permanent homes by April 2017 for the 38 residents who are now living in Mount Edwards Court. We will do this by moving some of the residents who need a higher level of support into our other ten apartment buildings, some into apartments operated by other non-profit organizations, and some into regular “market” apartments by subsidizing their rental costs and providing on-site support as needed.

Cool Aid’s long-term goal is, with community support, to build 360 more supportive housing apartments to help address this critical community need. This is the focus of our housing capital campaign.(Cool Aid has 45 apartments currently under construction in Saanich for seniors who are homeless.)

Back to questions near top

Question: Are guests allowed at Mount Edwards Court?

Answer: At the present time, while the residents settle into their new homes, Cool Aid is not allowing guests into the building who are not residents’ family members or helping professionals.

Most of Cool Aid’s other ten apartment buildings do accept guests, provided those guests are not creating a disturbance within the building or neighbourhood.

Cool Aid hopes that within a few months that Mount Edwards residents will also be able to invite guests into their homes. Access into the building will always be controlled by staff (i.e. locked) to ensure that only welcomed guests can get in.

Back to questions near top

Question: I know a lot of street people have pets. Do you allow pets at Mount Edwards Court or any of your other ten apartment buildings?

Answer: Pets are very important to people who have been homeless which is why most Cool Aid properties, including Mount Edwards, welcome our clients’ pets.

In fact, one of Cool Aid’s supporters is the Sooke Animal Food and Rescue Society (SAFARS), whose donors provide a significant amount of food for pets who are living with Cool Aid clients.

Back to questions near top

Question: Are the people living at Mount Edwards Court employed?

Answer: It might surprise neighbours to learn that a significant number of people who live in Cool Aid housing, including Mount Edwards, have regular jobs, as well as casual work. (This is also true of people staying in emergency shelters, like Rock Bay Landing and Sandy Merriman House.)

As well, Cool Aid has a longstanding policy of providing employment training opportunities for residents who want to gain some skills and earn a bit of money. Their janitorial contributions help build community and pride within the apartment buildings as well as providing new skills.

Other Cool Aid programs also provide employment training and placement opportunities for our residents and other clients:

  • Cool Aid’s Community Casual Labour Pool provides a free placement service for employers and casual workers who are available, trained and ready to work, including home owners who need help gardening, moving or with other needs.
  • The Downtown Community Centre, operated by Cool Aid at 755 Pandora Avenue near City Hall, provides employment training opportunities, lifeskills courses and healthy recreation opportunities for our residents and others. The free Community Kitchen program, for example, provides training in nutrition, food purchasing, preparation and storage, and leads to a Food Safe certification for participants.

The Beacon Services-Cool Aid Thrift Shop at 715 Pandora Avenue provides Cool Aid clients with employment training opportunities in retail operations as well as an inexpensive place to purchase clothing, household goods and other needed essentials.

Back to questions near top

Question: What are the expected outcomes for your residents?

Answer: Cool Aid’s agreement with the Province is quite clear about the expected outcomes for our residents. We are required to find permanent housing and any necessary supports that are needed for all 38 of our Mount Edwards residents and have them moved out not later than April 2017. During that process, Cool Aid will also support them in a variety of ways to improve their wellbeing, including help in locating employment, addiction treatment and improved health care.

Back to questions near top

Question: Does Cool Aid have any measurable results or evidence to show that your programs and services are successful?

Yes, Cool Aid utilizes a Balanced Scorecard methodology to measure our progress towards meeting our strategic objectives and reports out annually to the community. Cool Aid has also been featured in local and national research as an example of best practices in supportive housing.

Back to questions near top


Question:
Is it true that low barrier housing has been found to be detrimental to drug addiction recovery?

Answer: Perhaps counter-intuitively, the opposite has in fact been found. Insisting that people become “clean” before providing them with safe and secure housing simply keeps people homeless for longer – leading to more problems in neighbourhoods and more cost to taxpayers.

What works better is harm reduction and housing first, where people are accepted no matter what their condition, helped to stabilize in housing, and then encouraged to work on whatever challenges have caused them to become homeless, including addictions. This is what we are doing for residents at Mount Edwards Court who are struggling with addiction. While not everyone is able to overcome their addiction, many do, providing positive examples for their neighbours.

Back to questions near top


Question:
Will there be policies requiring residents to take prescribed medication for mental health conditions, and if so will this be enforced through supervision?

Answer: One of the important roles that our 24/7 Housing Support Workers provide is medication monitoring. As well, they interact with tenants every day to ensure that they are doing well and have all the support they need. When outside services are required, such as an ambulance, they are called in.

Back to questions near top


Question:
Will there be a safe injection site at Mount Edward?

Answer: No. There will be no drop-in services at the Mount Edward Court. Services are for residents only.

Back to questions near top


Question:
It sounds dangerous to house people with mental illness and addictions right beside Cathedral School. What assurances can you give that our children will not be harmed?

Answer: Whenever Cool Aid proposes a new apartment building neighbours are afraid. They often think that supportive housing looks like an emergency shelter or drop-in service where there can be spillover effects onto the sidewalk. Once we open and neighbours discover that the building is well managed and the residents well supported, there are very few problems or complaints. Check out the locations of our 14 facilities on this map.

Cool Aid’s own properties on the 700-block of Pandora Avenue provide an excellent example of how supportive housing can work well with neighbours, businesses and children nearby. 112 Cool Aid residents are housed on the block (including eight residents 19 years or younger) – from the same populations that Cool Aid is also housing at Mount Edwards Court.

The Downtown Community Centre is located immediately below/adjacent to 85 apartments for both adults and youth under 19 years.

Every weekday during the school year, groups of daycare providers rent the Community Centre’s gymnasium space for their preschool children to enjoy. As you can see from this online letter from a daycare provider, this has been working well for over 20 years for both the preschoolers and Cool Aid residents who benefit from their positive energy and encourage each other to be respectful and positive. To quote the daycare provider from her letter:

“Never in this time [20 years] have I or my children ever felt intimidated by the residents/clients of the facilities. In fact, it is quite the opposite. The residents/clients take great delight in watching the children and sometimes interacting with them – always with care and politeness and only after we have spoken first. I encourage the children to talk to everyone and if too shy to at least smile. The older children now recognize some of the longer time residents/clients and run up to say hi or show a special treasure they have. I really think this benefits the children and the residents/clients.”

Leagh Lawrence, Pedal Pusher Daycare

Additionally, for many years, the site was a host of the Out of the Rain youth shelter, for youth 19 years or younger who are homeless.

Cool Aid would be pleased to tour you through one of our sites, including Mount Edwards Court, so you can see for yourself how well a staffed supportive housing building fits into a neighbourhood even with child and youth services on site.

For tour bookings or information, please call Alan Rycroft at 250-414-4781 or email arycroft@CoolAid.org.

Back to questions near top


Question: Isn’t it true that Mount Edwards is a social experiment, providing supportive housing for such a large group beside an elementary school?

Answer: Mount Edwards Court is not a “social experiment”. There are numerous similiar projects located adjacent to schools in the Lower Mainland including Mole Hill & Lord Roberts Annex and Biltmore & Nightingale, which you can read about by clicking on the links.

Back to questions near top


Question:
How many staff are supporting the residents and neighbourhood at Mount Edwards Court?

Answer: Staffing levels are very high for our 38 residents and also for the neighbourhood.

Three professional resident support workers is the minimum staffing level at the site – that’s one staff person for each 13 residents — even during the middle of the night!

You will notice our Security Guard patrolling around the building between 7 am and 11 pm. From 11 pm to 7 am staff undertake periodic patrols of the exterior.

There is also be a full-time Client Support Worker dedicated to the building to assist residents with their goal planning, such as finding work, a permanent home and healthcare. Additionally there are visiting professionals such as nurses during weekdays. Finally, there is janitorial/maintenance staff and meals are being prepared off-site at our Swift street kitchen.

Mount Edwards has much higher staffing levels than Pandora Avenue, where we have successfully housed 112 residents for years with youth and child-serving programs on site every single day, including weekends.

We invite you to speak with our staff at Mount Edwards Court, or any other location, anytime. You can also call Mount Edwards 24/7 at 778-265-3456.

Back to questions near top


Question:
I live in the neighbourhood and see litter, discarded needles, loitering, drug trading and increased police interventions. Won’t these 38 residents make things even worse?

Answer: These behaviours are much more likely among people who are homeless than those housed in a caring and safe environment in their own apartment and supported by a group of professionals. Housing 38 of our neighbours who were living at the InTent City will reduce, not increase, such problems. When they are all safely housed with support workers we will see additional improvements in neighbourhood cleanliness and safety.

Needle sweeps in the area are performed by three groups. Both Sandy Merriman House and Mount Edwards Court have volunteer ‘Clean and Safe’ Teams. These teams cover an area of approximately two block radius around each building and safely dispose of needles and other garbage. They will also respond to a call from neighbours and Police if paraphernalia is found anywhere around either building. These teams are scheduled daily; however, at times volunteers are unable to attend their shift.

Mount Edwards Court also has Security on site daily between the hours of 7 am and 11 pm. During their hourly patrol of Mount Edwards and the adjacent block, which includes the school, the security officer sweeps for any needles, etc. and safely disposes of them.

Staff at Mount Edwards are always willing to attend and safely pick up needles in the neighbourhood if alerted by a neighbour. Their 24-hour phone number is: 778-265-3456.

Back to questions near top

Questions: What are your expectations of the residents?

Answers: At Mount Edwards Court, there is a dedicated staff person who works with the residents on developing and implementing their own personal plans for community integration. This could include, for example, goals and strategies to find permanent housing, employment, addiction treatment and improved health care.

Different people have different levels of success in improving their situation and resolving challenges.

At minimum, Cool Aid requires that all residents behave in appropriate ways both in the building and the neighbourhood. Any resident that is unable to be a good neighbour will be asked and assisted to help change any antisocial behaviours. If they are unsuccessful, the person may be moved to another building or evicted if necessary.

Back to questions near top


Question: Is there a process for neighbourhood input and consultation?

Answer: For Cool Aid, responding to neighbourhood concerns is a priority. As a way to do this, weekly neighbourhood meetings have been established, with representatives from the neighbourhood, Cathedral School, the City, police community liaison, Mount Edwards’ residents and Cool Aid. The weekly meetings are open to the public.

Back to questions near top


Question:
Anyone who makes a modification to their home has to go through rezoning before proceeding. Why is the Province being allowed to do whatever they want in this building without a required rezoning?

Answer: By law, the Province has the right to avoid municipal zoning regulations.

However, the Province, the City of Victoria and Cool Aid have all publicly committed to a rezoning process for any permanent change in use of the property beyond March 2017.

Back to questions near top

Question: The BC Government has announced they intend to open up 60 more apartments at Mount Edwards Count. Is that a good idea?

Answer: First off, the plan for the first year, until April 2017, has not changed — and that is to house and support up to 38 people who were formerly homeless and find them permanent housing within the year.

What happens after that is still subject to a public rezoning process that the Province, Cool Aid and the City of Victoria have all committed to undertake.

Furthermore, Cool Aid has committed to creating a process for dialogue with neighbours,school and Cathedral representatives before bringing forward a plan for rezoning. We need some time for the current operation to settle into a routine before we start this process.

After the rezoning process is completed, the neighbourhood will know with certainty what the long-term use of Mount Edwards Court will be.

Back to questions near top


Additional Mount Edwards Information:

Mount Edwards main page

Housing First Research summary

Call Mount Edwards staff:  778-265-3456 or speak with our Community Liaison outside the building

Tours or more info about Cool Aid: Alan Rycroft, arycroft@CoolAid.org, 250-414-4781

 

Additional Housing Campaign Information

Help End Homeless campaign to house 360 people

Relevant definitions

Province Announces Housing at Mount Edwards Court

The Province is the owner of Mount Edwards Court. Here is their announcement news release:

NEWS RELEASE
Additional temporary shelter and housing coming to Greater Victoria
February 5th, 2016
Ministry of Natural Gas Development and Responsible for Housing

VICTORIA – The Province will provide an additional 88 units of transitional housing and shelter, as well as 40 rent supplements for campers currently residing at the Victoria courthouse lawns.

Thirty-eight transitional housing units will be offered at the Mount Edwards Court Care Home at 1002 Vancouver St., which will be operated by the Victoria Cool Aid Society. The Province has purchased the building from the Baptist Housing Society for $3.65 million. The housing units will open in the coming weeks for approximately 12 months, and units will be rented for $375 per month. Island Health will also provide clinical support services at the site.

An additional 50 shelter units will be available at the former Victoria Youth Custody Centre building at 94 Talcott Rd. in View Royal and operated by Our Place Society. Campers will be provided with three meals per day and have the option of camping in the courtyard, which can accommodate at least 20 tents. The View Royal shelter will be open for approximately six months and the Mount Edwards one for approximately 12 months.

These facilities will also provide a range of support services to provide the campers with access to more stable, long-term housing, including rent supplements that will be administered by Pacifica Housing. These units are in addition to the 40 spaces at the former Boys and Girls Club that were made available in December.

Both facilities are expected to be operational by Feb. 23, 2016.

These 88 units of transitional housing and shelter are in addition to the 147 year-round homeless shelter spaces, 125 extreme weather shelter spaces and 145 temporary shelter spaces available in Victoria.

Both non-profit housing operators will hold public information sessions for each location, where community members will be invited to voice their concerns. Dates and locations are still being determined.

Provincial representatives are delivering a notice to each of the campers this morning to advise them that they must vacate the courthouse property by Feb. 25 due to safety concerns and to advise them of the additional housing options.

Quotes:

Rich Coleman, Minister of Natural Gas Development and Minister Responsible for Housing ─

“We have created these additional living spaces and are providing support services to help homeless individuals take an important step to find permanent, stable housing. I hope that people take this opportunity to make meaningful changes in their lives.”

Mayor Lisa Helps, City of Victoria ─

“We’re happy to see this much-needed investment in affordable housing in Victoria. We look forward to working with the Province and the neighbourhood to determine the best long-term use for the facility.”

Mayor David Screech, View Royal ─

“The homeless issue is truly a regional problem, and we believe that all jurisdictions must be part of the solution. With that philosophy, we are prepared to support Victoria and BC Housing’s initiative to use the youth custody centre as a facility for the homeless on a temporary basis. Victoria and BC Housing have shown great leadership in bringing forward these solutions.”

Don McTavish, senior manager, Victoria Cool Aid Society ─

“Cool Aid is excited to have this opportunity to house and support 38 people who are today homeless. We appreciate the support of the Province and look forward to working with the new residents, Cathedral School and neighbours to ensure this housing program integrates successfully into the neighbourhood.”

Don Evans, executive director, Our Place Society ─

“We are excited to offer people an opportunity to focus on their health needs. This state-of-the-art facility can deliver secure and stable shelter with access to food, hot showers, laundry and programs. The members of tent city have been asking for a place where they can still camp outdoors, but with access to the necessities they need. This facility delivers that and more.”

Quick Facts:

  • The Province has invested more than $176 million over the past five years toward approximately 5,000 units of subsidized housing and rent supplements in Victoria.
  • In 2014-15, the B.C. government invested more than $19 million to provide subsidized housing and rent supplements for more than 5,100 households in Victoria. This includes providing support for more than 2,200 senior households and more than 1,300 family households.
  • There are nearly 150 year-round homeless shelter spaces available in Victoria.
  • Last winter, more than 145 additional shelter spaces were available across Greater Victoria to increase emergency shelter space when extreme weather conditions threatened the safety and health of individuals.
  • The daytime drop-in centre at Our Place operates with $500,000 in funding from the B.C. government. In addition, the Province provided $125,000 in one time funding to help Our Place stay open longer.
  • Since 2001, the B.C. government has invested $4.4 billion to provide affordable housing for low income individuals, seniors and families.
  • This year, more than 102,500 B.C. households will benefit from provincial social housing programs and services.
  • The Province provided approximately $213 million last year to support more than 13,200 emergency shelter spaces, subsidized housing units and rent supplements for those who were homeless throughout British Columbia.
  • Last year, the Province invested over $19.7 million to provide subsidized housing and rent supplements for more than 5,100 Victoria households, including more than 970 of those who are homeless or at risk of homelessness.

Learn More:

To learn more about provincial programs and services to address homelessness in Victoria, please visit: www.bchousing.org and www.housingmattersbc.ca/docs/fs_Homeless%20Supports_Victoria.pdf

To see a map of permanent and temporary shelters in B.C., please visit: http://www.bchousing.org/Options/Emergency_Housing/Map

Media Contact:
Jenny Lee-Leugner
BC Housing
604 439-4195

DRAFT Mount Edwards Court Housing

On February 23, 2016, Victoria Cool Aid Society started operating the BC Housing-owned Mount Edwards Court to provide transitional housing and support services for 38 people; most of whom were homeless and living at the nearby tent city. Mount Edwards is located at 1002 Vancouver Street, at the corner of Rockland.

A year later, 20 individuals had been helped to find permanent housing who were living at Mount Edwards.

Here are some of the services Cool Aid is providing for the residents and neighbourhood:

  • Cool Aid has an operating agreement with BC Housing to provide transitional housing and supports for 38 people on the main floor.
  • Meals are provided every day for our residents.
  • Health supports are on-site weekly. Addiction and recovery supports are provided.
  • Life skills programming include financial and budgeting education.
  • Cool Aid has created a “clean and safe” team to help keep the neighbourhood clean and tidy. These teams pick up litter in the area near Mount Edwards Court.
  • Professional staff assist residents with goal setting and case planning, including assistance with locating permanent housing.

Web-sub-page-Banner-MT-Ed-BLANK-Feb-2016 Three Cool Aid Staff, including a dedicated, full-time Client Support Worker, are on-site 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, who can be reached anytime at 778-265-3456 or in person by going up to the building and pressing the doorbell.

There is secure access to the building with visitor/guest controls. The front entrance is on Vancouver Street and access is controlled by staff. Likewise, the accessible entrance for those with mobility challenges is on Rockland; with access also controlled by staff. All other doors are for emergency use only.

Cool Aid is committed to engaging in a public rezoning process as part of the long-term planning for the use of Mount Edwards Court.

Frequently Asked Questions

Learn more about Mount Edwards in our FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions) or drop us a line.

You may also be interested in reading some research about Cool Aid’s programs and philosophy and why “housing first” and “harm reduction” are considered best practice in the sector.

See below for additional contact information.

Support for Mount Edwards Court

Our funding partner is the Province of BC (BC Housing). The City of Victoria provides a property tax exemption for the supportive housing.

Many neighbours support Cool Aid’s efforts to provide solutions to homelessness through the provision of housing and support services including:

Additional Information

Speak with the staff of Mount Edwards Court 24 hours any day at 778-265-3456 or contact the building coordinator John Sherratt by email at jsherratt@CoolAid.org.

If you have a suggestion, compliment or complaint, in addition to speaking with our staff on site, you can also fill out a form. A response will be given to you if you provide contact information.

To arrange a tour with Cool Aid and see for yourself what Cool Aid supportive housing looks like please feel contact: Alan Rycroft, arycroft@CoolAid.org, 250-414-4781.

If you are unable to get the answers you need, please feel free to contact a member of Cool Aid’s senior management team:


ORIGINAL

On February 23, 2016, Victoria Cool Aid Society started operating the BC Housing-owned Mount Edwards Court building to provide temporary transitional housing and support services for 38 people for approximately 12 months. Mount Edwards is located at 1002 Vancouver Street, at the corner of Rockland.

Cool Aid staff are on-site 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. There are three or more staff members at Mount Edwards at all times, with a security guard outside from 7 am to midnight each day.

We have a 24-hour phone number for any questions or immediate concerns. Please feel free to call Mount Edwards anytime at 778-265-3456, or speak with our staff by going up to the building and pressing the doorbell.

There will be secure access to the building with visitor/guest controls. The front entrance is on Vancouver Street and access is controlled by staff. Likewise, the accessible entrance for those with mobility challenges is on Rockland; with access also controlled by staff. All other doors are for emergency use only. At this time, resident guests are not accepted into the building.

Here are some of the services Cool Aid will be providing for residents and the neighbourhood:

  • Cool Aid has created a “clean and safe” team to keep the neighbourhood clean and tidy. These teams will pick up litter daily in the area near Mount Edwards Court.
  • Meals are provided every day for our residents.
  • Health supports are on-site weekly. Addiction and recovery supports are provided.
  • Life skills programming will include financial and budgeting education.
  • Professional staff assist residents with goal setting and case planning, including assistance with locating permanent housing.

Partners

  • BC Housing
  • City of Victoria (tax exemption)

Frequently Asked Questions

We know you have more questions about Mount Edwards and they are hopefully answered in our FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions). If not, drop us a line with your question.

You may also be interested in reading some research about Cool Aid’s programs and philosophy and why “housing first” and “harm reduction” are considered best practice in the sector.

See below for additional contact information.

Neighbourhood Meetings

For Cool Aid, responding to neighbourhood concerns is a priority, which is why, together with community representatives, a draft Neighbour Relations Framework has been written. As well, regular neighbourhood meetings have been held with representatives from the neighbourhood, Cathedral School, the City, VicPD, Mount Edwards’ residents and Cool Aid. These meetings were open to the public and minutes can be found below.

There are no further neighbourhood meetings scheduled at this time. The original intent of these meetings was to provide a venue to bring forward concerns specific to the current operation of Mount Edwards and to share ideas about how we can all improve our neighbourhood. Given that neighbours were mostly interested in discussing the future of Mount Edwards, it makes sense to put these meetings on hold until such time as we have new information to share. BC Housing has advised that there are currently no plans to proceed with rezoning.

If you do have any concerns or suggestions regarding the current operation of Mount Edwards, please don’t hesitate to contact us; we can be reached in a variety of ways:

Mount Edwards Court

24 hour phone: 778-265-3456
John Sherratt, Coordinator, jsherratt@CoolAid.org,

Victoria Cool Aid Society

Don McTavish, Director of Residential Services, dmctavish@CoolAid.org
Kathy Stinson, CEO, kstinson@CoolAid.org

Minutes from previous neighbourhood meetings:

Support for Mount Edwards Court

Our funding partner is the Province of BC (BC Housing).

Many neighbours support Cool Aid’s efforts to provide solutions to homelessness through the provision of housing and support services including the following:

A few letters to the Times Colonist:

Web-sub-page-Banner-MT-Ed-BLANK-Feb-2016The Future

While the building is in use for short-term, transitional housing, Cool Aid will be leading a public process with the community and the City of Victoria to confirm the long-term use of Mount Edwards Court for permanent housing. The long-term use of the property in no way changes what is happening at Mount Edwards today:

  • Cool Aid has an operating agreement with BC Housing to provide transitional housing and supports for people in the 38 units on the main floor until March 2017.
  • Cool Aid is committed to engaging in a public rezoning process as part of the long-term plan.
  • Cool Aid won’t be in a position to begin discussion on those long-term plans until the current operation has had a chance to settle into a routine.
  • Cool Aid will engage a working group that includes representation from the school, the Cathedral, and the neighborhood as we develop the long-term plan.
  • Cool Aid is not fixated on a final number of apartments at this time; that will flow from the planning process.

Additional Information

Speak with the Community Liaison staff outside the building or call Mount Edwards Court directly anytime at 778-265-3456.

If you have a suggestion, compliment or complaint, in addition to speaking with our staff on site, you can also fill out a form. A response will be given to you if you provide contact information.

To arrange a tour with Cool Aid and see what supportive housing looks like please feel contact: Alan Rycroft, Community Relations, arycroft@CoolAid.org, 250-414-4781.

If you are unable to get the answers you need, please feel free to contact a member of Cool Aid’s senior management team:


Province of British Columbia

The Province is the owner of Mount Edwards Court. Below is their announcement news release:

NEWS RELEASE
Additional temporary shelter and housing coming to Greater Victoria
February 5th, 2016
Ministry of Natural Gas Development and Responsible for Housing

VICTORIA – The Province will provide an additional 88 units of transitional housing and shelter, as well as 40 rent supplements for campers currently residing at the Victoria courthouse lawns.

Thirty-eight transitional housing units will be offered at the Mount Edwards Court Care Home at 1002 Vancouver St., which will be operated by the Victoria Cool Aid Society. The Province has purchased the building from the Baptist Housing Society for $3.65 million. The housing units will open in the coming weeks for approximately 12 months, and units will be rented for $375 per month. Island Health will also provide clinical support services at the site.

An additional 50 shelter units will be available at the former Victoria Youth Custody Centre building at 94 Talcott Rd. in View Royal and operated by Our Place Society. Campers will be provided with three meals per day and have the option of camping in the courtyard, which can accommodate at least 20 tents. The View Royal shelter will be open for approximately six months and the Mount Edwards one for approximately 12 months.

These facilities will also provide a range of support services to provide the campers with access to more stable, long-term housing, including rent supplements that will be administered by Pacifica Housing. These units are in addition to the 40 spaces at the former Boys and Girls Club that were made available in December.

Both facilities are expected to be operational by Feb. 23, 2016.

These 88 units of transitional housing and shelter are in addition to the 147 year-round homeless shelter spaces, 125 extreme weather shelter spaces and 145 temporary shelter spaces available in Victoria.

Both non-profit housing operators will hold public information sessions for each location, where community members will be invited to voice their concerns. Dates and locations are still being determined.

Provincial representatives are delivering a notice to each of the campers this morning to advise them that they must vacate the courthouse property by Feb. 25 due to safety concerns and to advise them of the additional housing options.

Quotes:

Rich Coleman, Minister of Natural Gas Development and Minister Responsible for Housing ─

“We have created these additional living spaces and are providing support services to help homeless individuals take an important step to find permanent, stable housing. I hope that people take this opportunity to make meaningful changes in their lives.”

Mayor Lisa Helps, City of Victoria ─

“We’re happy to see this much-needed investment in affordable housing in Victoria. We look forward to working with the Province and the neighbourhood to determine the best long-term use for the facility.”

Mayor David Screech, View Royal ─

“The homeless issue is truly a regional problem, and we believe that all jurisdictions must be part of the solution. With that philosophy, we are prepared to support Victoria and BC Housing’s initiative to use the youth custody centre as a facility for the homeless on a temporary basis. Victoria and BC Housing have shown great leadership in bringing forward these solutions.”

Don McTavish, senior manager, Victoria Cool Aid Society ─

“Cool Aid is excited to have this opportunity to house and support 38 people who are today homeless. We appreciate the support of the Province and look forward to working with the new residents, Cathedral School and neighbours to ensure this housing program integrates successfully into the neighbourhood.”

Don Evans, executive director, Our Place Society ─

“We are excited to offer people an opportunity to focus on their health needs. This state-of-the-art facility can deliver secure and stable shelter with access to food, hot showers, laundry and programs. The members of tent city have been asking for a place where they can still camp outdoors, but with access to the necessities they need. This facility delivers that and more.”

Quick Facts:

  • The Province has invested more than $176 million over the past five years toward approximately 5,000 units of subsidized housing and rent supplements in Victoria.
  • In 2014-15, the B.C. government invested more than $19 million to provide subsidized housing and rent supplements for more than 5,100 households in Victoria. This includes providing support for more than 2,200 senior households and more than 1,300 family households.
  • There are nearly 150 year-round homeless shelter spaces available in Victoria.
  • Last winter, more than 145 additional shelter spaces were available across Greater Victoria to increase emergency shelter space when extreme weather conditions threatened the safety and health of individuals.
  • The daytime drop-in centre at Our Place operates with $500,000 in funding from the B.C. government. In addition, the Province provided $125,000 in one time funding to help Our Place stay open longer.
  • Since 2001, the B.C. government has invested $4.4 billion to provide affordable housing for low income individuals, seniors and families.
  • This year, more than 102,500 B.C. households will benefit from provincial social housing programs and services.
  • The Province provided approximately $213 million last year to support more than 13,200 emergency shelter spaces, subsidized housing units and rent supplements for those who were homeless throughout British Columbia.
  • Last year, the Province invested over $19.7 million to provide subsidized housing and rent supplements for more than 5,100 Victoria households, including more than 970 of those who are homeless or at risk of homelessness.

Learn More:

To learn more about provincial programs and services to address homelessness in Victoria, please visit: www.bchousing.org and www.housingmattersbc.ca/docs/fs_Homeless%20Supports_Victoria.pdf

To see a map of permanent and temporary shelters in B.C., please visit: http://www.bchousing.org/Options/Emergency_Housing/Map

Media Contact:
Jenny Lee-Leugner
BC Housing
604 439-4195

Tickets for Irene Haigh-Gidora’s Retirement Celebration

Thank you for joining us in honouring Irene Haigh-Gidora: Thursday, January 19!

Doors open at 5 pm at the Catalano Restaurant, 619 Courtney Street.

Celebrating Ten Years of Eric’s Chili Bandit Supper

Bandit Chili SupperTen years ago, Eric walked into the Downtown Community Centre with a vision. A vision of offering entertainment, a warm meal, and an evening to remember to those who otherwise wouldn’t get to experience anything like it. Donna, our Community Centre Coordinator listened to Eric and took his idea and helped him grow it into the event that we are gearing up for this December 10, 2016:

The Bandit Benefit Chili Supper & Concert!!

This dinner is a chance for anyone and everyone to get a warm meal, listen to some fantastic music, and to enjoy — at no cost to them! But that’s not the only thing that makes this dinner special. The humble beginnings and the back story of how this event came to be are truly inspiring.

The first year Eric planned this dinner he himself was homeless. Eric had unfortunately, been a car accident that year and was out of work. He came to the Downtown Community Centre looking for help and assistance in getting his life back. Donna and the team stepped right up, and with the help of Cool Aid and the resources offered he overcame every challenge that he faced. To top it all off, he gave something back to Cool Aid and the community Centre, in the form of the Chili Bandit Supper & Concert.

Eric, with the help of the Downtown Community Centre, and multiple sponsors around the greater Victoria area, have been able to keep this dinner going for ten straight years! It has become a staple and tradition once December hits and we have been able to watch him turn it into something far greater than just one dinner — it’s a stepping stone in creating community!

We are thrilled to be able to work with Eric year after year to continue on with this wonderful event and invite you to check out his video about what the dinner means to him:

Alan Rycroft, Community Relations Manager

alan-rycroft-web-2016Alan Rycroft has over 20 years experience managing fund development, media relations, strategic communications, web sites, campaigns, events and newswires within government, non-profit agencies and the private sector.

Since 2006, Alan has managed Community Relations for the Victoria Cool Aid Society. In his role as Manager, he is responsible for communications and marketing and also plays an active role in fund development.  He volunteers with a variety of small organizations helping them improve their communications and fundraising.

Alan’s work has been instrumental in raising Cool Aid’s profile in the community and in increasing the dollars available for capital projects (buildings) and operating costs.

return to the Governance page

Dave Fracy, Director

Dave Fracy, Cool Aid DirectorIn 2016, Dave Fracy was named a partner of Hatch & Muir LLP – having spent the previous five years as an associate financial advisor at Raymond James Limited.

Dave also has a broad skill-set in operations, processes and planning. His first career was in the golf industry where he spent 14 years at Callaway Golf Canada, most notably as Director of Operations.

Dave holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Political Science from the University of Victoria and recently attained the FPSC Level 1® Certification in Financial Planning.

For the last two years, Dave has been the organizing force behind Cool Aid’s Legacy Golf Tournament in a volunteer capacity.

Born and raised in Victoria, Dave is passionate about the city and improving community quality of life.

return to the Governance page

Janet Donald, Director

Janet Donald has worked in public policy and programs with the British Columbia provincial government for the past 20 years. This work has spanned children’s rights, early childhood development, strategic planning and the development and implementation of policy and legislation. Janet’s work has crossed a variety of offices and ministries including the Children’s Commission, Office for Children and Youth and the Ministry of Attorney General and Justice.

Janet is currently Director of Policy with the Residential Tenancy Branch, Office of Housing and Construction Standards.

Prior to her work with the provincial government, Janet worked in the not-for-profit and education sectors.  This included work as a sessional instructor with the University College of the Fraser Valley, a Team Lead with the Provincial Review Team, and a Research Associate with Women-Futures Community Economic Development Society.

Janet received a Master of Social Work from the University of British Columbia, with a specialization in Community Development, Social Policy and Research.

return to the Governance page

Kathleen Perkin, Director

Kathleen has a background in research and policy analysis in the areas of harm reduction, substance use and housing. Kathleen holds Bachelor and Master of Arts degrees in anthropology from the University of Victoria.

From November 2009 to 2014, Kathleen was the Research Coordinator for Dr. Bernie Pauly at the Centre for Addictions Research/University of Victoria of BC.

In this position, she managed a variety of projects focused on health equity, substance use, harm reduction and/or social determinants of health. Her two most recent projects were Equity Lens in Public Health and Managed Alcohol Programs: Evaluating Effectiveness and Policy Implications.

Kathleen is currently working with the Ministry of Health, as Manager, Harm Reduction Policy in the Population and Public Health Division.

return to the Governance page

Blaine Sparvie Works Hard

blaine-wendy-labour-pool-web-2016-septWendy from Cool Aid’s Labour Pool would like to introduce you to Blaine Sparvie.

For the past ten years, Blaine has been finding work using Cool Aid’s Labour Pool; earning income, learning new skills and building confidence.

Blaine has been able to secure near full-time work through the Labour Pool, and in an interview jokingly stated that, “I am so busy now… maybe it’s time for a vacation!”

But joking aside, Blaine has worked hand-in-hand with Cool Aid to get off the streets and into safe housing, build a steady stream of employment, and find a community that cares and supports him.

Blaine has gained skills and experience that he would not have otherwise received had it not been for the work he has found through Cool Aid’s Labour Pool these last ten years.

When asked what he would say to those at Cool Aid who have helped him, he replied:

“What would I say? Oh gosh—THANK YOU! Thank you for listening, thank you for helping, and thank you for just being there. Cool Aid has helped a lot – hundreds of people – not just me.”

Check out Blaine’s Video Interview on Cool Aid’s YouTube channel.

Learn more about the Casual Labour Pool at CoolAid.org/labour or call Wendy at 250-388-9296 to book a skilled or general worker for your business, garden, home or move.

Cool Aid Hosts Project Connect Next Wednesday

October 6, 2016 – Project Connect creates a celebration of giving for many of the Capital Region’s most vulnerable and poor citizens, by providing “one stop shopping” for a wide variety of needs: from personal portrait photos to ID replacement, food to hygiene items and gift bags, and includes live music and an open mic. An initiative of the Greater Victoria Coalition to End Homelessness, and a partnership effort, this year’s Project Connect will be hosted at Cool Aid’s Rock Bay Landing shelter and transitional housing, 535 Ellice Street from 10 am to 3 pm, next Wednesday, October 12.

“This is an important annual event for members of the community experiencing homelessness and also for organizations providing much needed services,” says Don Elliott, Executive Director of the Coalition to End Homelessness. “Project Connect gives everyone the opportunity to access a range of services and information in one place – something that cannot be underestimated – and is an important part of coming together as a community in support of one another.”

Cool Aid’s volunteer coordinator, Erin Gallagher, iProject Connect Needs Your Helps excited, but needs the community to step up more to donate needed goods and services, and volunteer to help out on the day. “It’s been fantastic to talk to all the caring Victorians who are giving and helping,” send Erin. “But we still need another 30 volunteers for Wednesday and a variety of clothing, hygiene items and food, or cash donations, to provide for our guests.”

One of the key organizers this year is Anawim House’s executive director, Terry Edison-Brown, who says: “Project Connect is a unique and exciting opportunity where all the service providers in Victoria come together to provide for those in need offering information and services.  This is a time where instead of representing individual organizations, we are all able to come together and do what we do best, which is help the homeless and in a direct and tangible way. We are able to connect with each other and connect with the individuals we serve as a whole. This is about meeting the needs of poverty, and together working to eradicate homelessness and provide social justice in the way it was meant to be.”

Our Place Society has also been active lining up donations for our clients, as well as volunteers. Community relations coordinator Tracy Campbell added that, “It is a delight for all of us to work together as service providers to make sure none of our ‘family members’ falls through the gaps. It takes a community to help those who are most vulnerable among us.”

To make a donation to Project Connect or volunteer on the day, contact Cool Aid’s Erin Gallagher at 250-383-1951 extension 4 or egallagher@CoolAid.org. Rock Bay Landing is located at 535 Ellice Street in Victoria.

Media are also invited down to Rock Bay during Project Connect next Wednesday.

– 30 –

Information:              victoriahomelessness.ca/get-involved/project-connect

Erin Gallagher, Volunteer Coordinator, 250-383-1951 ext. 4, egallagher@CoolAid.org

Terry Edison-Brown, Anawim House, 250-382-0283, anawimhouse@shaw.ca

Tracy Campbell, Our Place, 250-388-7112 ext. 259, tracyc@ourplacesociety.com

Don Elliott, G.V. Coalition to End Homelessness, 250-415-1717, DElliott@victoriahomelessness.ca

 

 

The Victoria Cool Aid Society builds homes, lives and community. We create opportunities for people who are homeless or living in poverty. We make a difference through housing, health care, support and emergency shelters. Founded in 1968, Cool Aid helps over 9,000 people in the Capital Region every year, at 15 locations in Langford, Victoria and Saanich. The Society’s major new campaign is “Help End Homelessness”, to build or repurpose an additional 360 apartments for people in the community who have no home. #buildhomes

Thomas Keeps Things Spic-and-Span at Desmond House

thomas-and-staff-mike-quirke-at-desmond-2016-sept
Step into Thomas’ room at Desmond House, and one can see this former Navy man’s attention to detail shines. The bed is made to perfection, the bookshelf organized immaculately, and then there is Thomas, reading from his expansive library.

Thomas has been at Desmond house for the past nine years and has become an integral part of the community that lives there. In Thomas’ words, “Desmond house is a community – we are all there to support each other. Whether it’s a can of beans, or what have you, we always try to help each other out.”

Thomas once served in the Navy, but like many veterans, he fell on hard times and challenges. He was on and off of the streets for a few years, but Thomas worked with Cool Aid to face these challenges head on.

With support from his housing worker Mike (on the left) and resources from Cool Aid, Thomas has had stable housing, a strong support system, and works every week at Desmond house to keep it spic-and-span.

Check out Thomas’s video interview on Cool Aid’s YouTube channel:

Learn more about Cool Aid housing or call Alan at 250-414-4781. Tours are available.

Register for Homecoming at Ship Point

We invite you to join us for an unforgettable evening under the stars dedicated to helping end homelessness. It will be a special night of celebrating Cool Aid’s 50th Anniversary and your generosity, featuring fine catering and wine, two live bands and an auction.

When: Saturday, May 26, 2018 from 6:30 to 10 pm
Where: Ship Point, Inner Harbour, Victoria (adjacent to the Harbour Air Terminal on Wharf Street)
Cost:      $125 includes a variety of comfort foods with a twist and full beverage service (includes all food & beverage)

Thank You For Joining Us At Homecoming

Thank you for registering to attend Cool Aid’s upcoming Homecoming 50th Anniversary Gala. Your presence will help us in our mission to end homelessness in our community.

We are not planning on mailing out tickets, but we have your name(s) on file now as attending.

When:  Saturday, May 26, 2018 from 6:30 to 10 pm
Where: Ship Point, Inner Harbour, Victoria (adjacent to the Harbour Air Terminal on Wharf Street)

We look forward to seeing you soon.

For further information, please visit our Homecoming main page , invite others and stay in touch through our event’s Facebook page, or contact:

Alan Rycroft
250-414-4781

logo Homecoming web

Harm Reduction and Housing Research

At the Victoria Cool Aid Society we believe strongly in the effectiveness of housing first, which means that we are better able to help people overcome the issues that caused them to experience homelessness once they have a safe, supportive home to live in.

Harm reduction is an essential part of housing first. Harm reduction means keeping people safe and acting to reduce the harmful impacts of substance use, including death, disease, injury, and trauma. For example, relapses are a common aspect of addiction recovery. With the harm reduction approach, residents are provided with counseling and support to overcome cravings and, if necessary, avoid harmful behaviours during a relapse by using clean, safe medical equipment, by being in a safe place where emergency help is readily available, and biomedical waste can be sanitarily disposed of. Victoria Cool Aid Society supportive housing buildings commonly offer clean medical supplies and safe disposal containers, as well as 24/7 counseling and support.

The housing first approach and harm reduction can seem counter-intuitive to those who are unfamiliar with the experience of addictions and homelessness.

When learning about this approach for the first time it is helpful to remember that not just at Cool Aid, but throughout Canada and internationally, there is a well-established body of evidence from both service providers and experts that housing first is the best practice in helping people overcome homelessness, especially when homelessness and addictions overlap.

Below are links to information and research on how housing first works and what it is, from local to international:

Below are links to information and research specifically about harm reduction, a vital component of the housing first model.

Mount Edwards FAQ

Frequently Asked Questions are below.

Victoria Cool Aid Society builds homes, lives and community. We create opportunities for people who are homeless or living in poverty. We make a difference through housing, health care, support and emergency shelters. Founded in 1968, Cool Aid helps 10,000 people in the Capital Region every year, at 16 locations in Langford, Victoria and Saanich – including 12 supportive housing apartment buildings. The Society’s major campaign is “Help End Homelessness”, to build an additional 360 apartments for people in the community who have no home.

The Mount Edwards property at 1002 Vancouver Street is well designed for the purpose – and currently houses 38 individuals on the main floor. Other features include a dining area, lounge, offices for support staff and a large interior courtyard.

The FAQ below (Frequently Asked Questions) has been prepared to answer some of the most common questions we hear about Mount Edwards Court.

Contact information can be found below should you want to speak to someone from Cool Aid or are interested in a tour of existing Mount Edwards or other Cool Aid programs; an opportunity to meet our staff and tenants.


FAQ – Frequently Asked Questions

Click on a question to read the answer.

Who Lives at Mount Edwards Court?

What About Mental Illness, Drugs and Addictions?

Aren’t Neighbourhood Impacts Unacceptable?

What About Neighbourhood Consultation and Rezoning?


Answers to Questions


Question:
Who lives in these apartments?

Answer: The profile of residents in Mount Edwards is very similar to the existing profile of residents served in all of Cool Aid’s other ten supportive housing buildings: 70% male and 30% female; about 40% between 19 and 39 years old, 47% between 40 and 55 years, and 13% over 55.

All people housed in Mount Edwards Court have been previously homeless.

The 38 small apartments are intended for a wide variety of needs and ages, including mental health conditions, addictions, head injuries and fetal alcohol syndrome for men and women who have been homeless and require housing and support services.

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Question: What are your screening criteria for Mount Edwards residents?

Answer: The screening process is a complex one that includes:

  • the use of a vulnerability assessment tool
  • interviewing the prospective tenants
  • talking with our staff, other service providers and helping professionals who know the candidates, and
  • weighing their suitability for the current mix of residents and the neighbourhood

The goal is to create a mix of residents that is balanced and manageable, while providing a high level of support for those who need it.

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Question: Why don’t you do Criminal Record checks on prospective tenants? How can you ensure that sex offenders are screened out?

In British Columbia, landlords and property managers acting on their behalf must adhere to the privacy rules contained in the BC Personal Information Protection Act (“PIPA”). These guidelines are intended to assist landlords and property managers in discharging their duties under the Residential Tenancy Act (“RTA”) in a manner that respects the privacy of tenants and promotes transparency in the operation of landlord and tenant relationships.

A landlord cannot as a condition of renting or providing any service to a tenant, ask for consent to collect personal information beyond what is necessary to provide tenancy or that service. Requiring a criminal records check is not reasonably necessary.

Sex offenders are on strict orders that prohibit them from being in areas where children are in close proximity. They must report their address to their probation / parole officer who would preclude them from residing at Mount Edwards; or indeed any apartment building in close proximity to a school.

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Question: How will you find permanent homes for the people now living in Mount Edwards Court, when there are so few vacant apartments in Victoria and considering how expensive they are?

Answer: This question underscores the fact that there are currently not enough affordable rentals in the Capital Region. In the long term, the solution is continued construction of permanent affordable and supportive housing by all levels of government.

In the short term, Cool Aid is committed to finding permanent homes for the residents living in Mount Edwards Court. We do this by moving some of the residents who need a higher level of support into our other eleven apartment buildings, some into apartments operated by other non-profit organizations, and some into regular “market” apartments by subsidizing their rental costs and providing on-site support as needed. As of March 2017, 18 residents had been moved out of Mount Edwards into permanent housing.

Cool Aid’s long-term goal is, with community support, to build 360 more supportive housing apartments to help address this critical community need. Mount Edwards apartments were the first.

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Question: Are guests allowed at Mount Edwards Court?

Answer: Cool Aid does not allow guests into the building to ensure that residents feel safe in their homes.

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Question: I know a lot of street people have pets. Do you allow pets at Mount Edwards Court or any of your other eleven apartment buildings?

Answer: Pets are very important to people who have been homeless which is why most Cool Aid properties, including Mount Edwards, welcome our clients’ pets.

In fact, one of Cool Aid’s supporters is the Sooke Animal Food and Rescue Society (SAFARS), whose donors provide a significant amount of food for pets who are living with Cool Aid clients.

As well, Cool Aid has set up a “Pets In Need Endowment” at the Victoria Foundation to help our clients with some of their pet expenses, such as operations, thanks to a generous bequest in his will from the late Carl Young.

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Question: Are the people living at Mount Edwards Court employed?

Answer: It might surprise neighbours to learn that a significant number of people who live in Cool Aid housing, including Mount Edwards, have regular jobs, as well as casual work. (This is also true of people staying in emergency shelters, like Rock Bay Landing and Sandy Merriman House.)

As well, Cool Aid has a longstanding policy of providing employment training opportunities for residents who want to gain some skills and earn a bit of money. Their janitorial contributions help build community and pride within the apartment buildings as well as providing new skills.

Other Cool Aid programs also provide employment training and placement opportunities for our residents and other clients:

  • Cool Aid’s Community Casual Labour Pool provides a free placement service for employers and casual workers who are available, trained and ready to work, including home owners who need help gardening, moving or with other needs.
  • The Downtown Community Centre, operated by Cool Aid at 755 Pandora Avenue near City Hall, provides employment training opportunities, lifeskills courses and healthy recreation opportunities for our residents and others. The free Community Kitchen program, for example, provides training in nutrition, food purchasing, preparation and storage, and leads to a Food Safe certification for participants.

The Beacon Services-Cool Aid Thrift Shop at 715 Pandora Avenue provides Cool Aid clients with employment training opportunities in retail operations as well as an inexpensive place to purchase clothing, household goods and other needed essentials.

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Question: What are the expected outcomes for your residents?

Answer: Cool Aid’s agreement with the Province is quite clear about the expected outcomes for our residents. We are required to find permanent housing and any necessary supports that are needed for our Mount Edwards residents and help them move out. During that process, Cool Aid supports them in a variety of ways to improve their wellbeing, including help in locating employment, addiction treatment and improved health care.

As of March 2017, 18 of our Mount Edwards residents have been successfully moved into permanent housing elsewhere.

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Question: Does Cool Aid have any measurable results or evidence to show that your programs and services are successful?

Yes, Cool Aid utilizes a Balanced Scorecard methodology to measure our progress towards meeting our strategic objectives and reports out annually to the community. Cool Aid has also been featured in local and national research as an example of best practices in supportive housing.

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Question:
Is it true that low barrier housing has been found to be detrimental to drug addiction recovery?

Answer: Perhaps counter-intuitively, the opposite has in fact been found. Insisting that people become “clean” before providing them with safe and secure housing simply keeps people homeless for longer – leading to more problems in neighbourhoods and more cost to taxpayers.

What works better is harm reduction and housing first, where people are accepted no matter what their condition, helped to stabilize in housing, and then encouraged to work on whatever challenges have caused them to become homeless.

Moving forward, people who have problematic substance use challenges will not be allowed into Mount Edwards Court, including intravenous (IV) drug users.

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Question:
Are there policies requiring residents to take prescribed medication for mental health conditions, and if so is this enforced through supervision?

Answer: One of the important roles that our round-the-clock Housing Support Workers provide is medication monitoring. As well, they interact with tenants every day to ensure that they are doing well and have all the support they need. When outside services are required, such as an ambulance, they are called in.

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Question:
Will there be a safe injection site at Mount Edward?

Answer: No. There will be no drop-in services at the Mount Edward Court. Services are for residents only. Residents using intravenous (IV) drugs will not be allowed to move into the building.

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Question:
It sounds dangerous to house people with mental illness and addictions right beside Cathedral School. What assurances can you give that our children will not be harmed?

Answer: Sometimes when Cool Aid proposes a new apartment building neighbours are fearful. They often think that supportive housing looks like an emergency shelter or drop-in service where there can be spillover effects onto the sidewalk. Once we open and neighbours discover that the building is well managed and the residents well supported, there are very few problems or complaints. Check out the locations of our 16 facilities on this map.

Mount Edwards Court has been operating in the neighbourhood for over a year, since February 2016, with very little impact to the neighbourhood.

Cool Aid’s own properties on the 700-block of Pandora Avenue provide an excellent example of how supportive housing can work well with neighbours, businesses and children nearby. 112 Cool Aid residents are housed on the block (including eight residents 19 years or younger).

The Downtown Community Centre is located immediately below/adjacent to 85 apartments for both adults and youth under 19 years.

Every weekday during the school year, groups of daycare providers rent the Community Centre’s gymnasium space for their preschool children to enjoy. As you can see from this letter from a daycare provider, this has been working well for over 20 years for both the preschoolers and Cool Aid residents who benefit from their positive energy and encourage each other to be respectful and positive. To quote the daycare provider from her letter:

“Never in this time [20 years] have I or my children ever felt intimidated by the residents/clients of the facilities. In fact, it is quite the opposite. The residents/clients take great delight in watching the children and sometimes interacting with them – always with care and politeness and only after we have spoken first. I encourage the children to talk to everyone and if too shy to at least smile. The older children now recognize some of the longer time residents/clients and run up to say hi or show a special treasure they have. I really think this benefits the children and the residents/clients.”

Leagh Lawrence, Pedal Pusher Daycare

Additionally, for many years, the site was a host of the Out of the Rain youth shelter, for youth 19 years or younger who are homeless.

Cool Aid would be pleased to tour you through one of our sites, including Mount Edwards Court, so you can see for yourself how well a staffed supportive housing building fits into a neighbourhood even with child and youth services on site.

For tour bookings or information, please call Alan Rycroft at 250-414-4781 or email arycroft@CoolAid.org.

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Question: Isn’t it true that Mount Edwards is a social experiment, providing supportive housing for such a large group beside an elementary school?

Answer: Mount Edwards Court is not a “social experiment”. There are numerous similiar projects located adjacent to schools in the Lower Mainland including Mole Hill & Lord Roberts Annex and Biltmore & Nightingale, which you can read about by clicking on the links.

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Question:
How many staff are supporting the residents and neighbourhood at Mount Edwards Court?

Answer: Staffing levels are very high for just 38 residents and the neighbourhood.

Three professional resident support workers is the minimum staffing level at the site – even during the middle of the night!

There is also a full-time Client Support Worker dedicated to assisting residents with their goal planning, such as finding work, a permanent home and healthcare. Additionally there are visiting professionals such as nurses during weekdays. Finally, there is janitorial/maintenance staff and meals are being prepared off-site at our Swift House kitchen. Mount Edwards has much higher staffing levels than Pandora Avenue, where we have successfully housed 112 residents for years with youth and child-serving programs on site every single day, including weekends.

We invite you to speak with our staff at Mount Edwards Court, or any other location, anytime. You can call Mount Edwards any hour of the day at 778-265-3456.

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Questions: What are your expectations of the residents?

Answers: At Mount Edwards Court, there is a dedicated staff person who works with the residents on developing and implementing their own personal plans for community integration. This could include, for example, goals and strategies to find permanent housing, employment, addiction treatment and improved health care.

Different people have different levels of success in improving their situation and resolving challenges.

At minimum, Cool Aid requires that all residents behave in appropriate ways both in the building and the neighbourhood. Any resident that is unable to be a good neighbour will be asked and assisted to help change any antisocial behaviours. If they are unsuccessful, the person may be moved to another building or evicted if necessary.

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Question: Is there a process for neighbourhood input and consultation?

Answer: See below (question about zoning).

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Question:
Anyone who makes a modification to their home has to go through rezoning before proceeding. Why is the Province being allowed to do whatever they want in this building without a required rezoning?

Answer: By law, the Province has the right to avoid municipal zoning regulations.

However, the Province, the City of Victoria and Cool Aid have all publicly committed to a public rezoning process for Mount Edwards Court. For information on current zoning matters, please visit the main Mount Edwards Court web page.

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Additional Mount Edwards Information:

Mount Edwards main page

Housing First Research summary

Call Mount Edwards staff:  778-265-3456

Tours or more info about Cool Aid: Alan Rycroft, arycroft@CoolAid.org, 250-414-4781

Additional Housing Campaign Information

Help End Homeless campaign to house 360 people

Relevant definitions

Hundreds of Paintings Donated

February 27, 2016 — Today, Cool Aid received one of the most interesting donations we have seen in several years – literally hundreds of artworks were delivered to Cool Aid’s newest apartment building, Mount Edwards Court, from a consortium of donors:

2 Burley Men help Cool Aid staff and residents move hundreds of paintings.

2 Burley Men help Cool Aid staff and residents move hundreds of paintings.

A donation of this magnitude is only possible with the cooperative efforts of hundreds of people, including the buyers whose purchases benefited Victoria Hospice.

These paintings will soon be adorning the walls of Cool Aid’s 15 buildings throughout the Capital Region, and some will be held in reserve for future buildings, such as Cottage Grove for seniors. Literally thousands of Cool Aid clients will benefit from the more beautiful surroundings where they access services every day.

A big thank you to the donors, Order of St. John, Victoria Hospice and 2 Burley Men for making the lives of some of Greater Victoria’s more vulnerable citizens a little brighter today – and every day. Your generosity is inspiring!

Just some of the artworks ready for hanging in Cool Aid’s 15 buildings.Just some of the artworks ready for hanging in Cool Aid’s 15 buildings.

Rock Bay Landing Emergency Shelter Celebrates 5 Years

This Thursday, November 5, Rock Bay Landing emergency shelter and transitional housing is celebrating five years of service with an Open House and activities for members of the public. Rock Bay opened five years ago today (Nov. 3, 2010), allowing an additional 23 apartments to be built at the old Streetlink shelter downtown. The following activities are open to the public and media:

10 – 11:30 – Pancake Brunch Open-House and United Way Employee Giving Kick-Off
Primarily aimed at clients and staff, but open to everyone, including tiny tricycle races, capes and games of chance.

11:30 – Tour of Rock Bay Landing

Open to everyone – learn about Victoria’s largest emergency shelter, facilitated by a member of the shelter management team.

12 pm – Cake Cutting and Celebration

Open to everyone – a special invitation extended to Rock Bay Landing neighbours and Victoria community members to celebrate this milestone with us.

1 Tour of Rock Bay Landing

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Cool Aid AGM 2015 with Frank Bourree

How can businesses help to end homelessness in Greater Victoria?

If anyone can help us answer this question, it’s Frank Bourree. CEO of Chemistry Consulting, Chair of the Board of the Greater Victoria Chamber of Commerce, Member of the Board of the Victoria Community Living Foundation, and a Director of the Greater Victoria Coalition to End Homelessness, Frank deeply cares about growing our community into a healthy and prosperous place for everyone.

On June 24th Frank Bourree and Cool Aid Executive Director Kathy Stinson will have a conversation about how businesses can help make that happen. Kathy Stinson and Board President Brad Clark will also be showcasing some of the work Cool Aid has done to help end homelessness in the past year, and introducing some of the people whose lives have been touched by that work.

2015-AGM-FrankCool Aid AGM

  • Wednesday, June 24th, at 12 noon.
  • Downtown Community Centre: 755 Pandora Avenue.
  • Doors open at 11:30 am.

 

As well as the essential duties of an Annual General Meeting, we will also be taking the opportunity to express our gratitude for the generosity of the many volunteers, private donors, funders, community partners, and our dedicated staff. The overwhelming support of these people and organizations enable Cool Aid to provide essential support through shelter, housing, health and other services to those most in need in the Capital Region.

Thank You Shelter Volunteers!

This week we would like to send out a special thanks to all the wonderful people who generously give their time to help people in need. Volunteer support is an essential part of the personal comfort and care that foster the feelings of belonging, dignity, and hope that are an essential part of the journey out of homelessness. Shelter Volunteers provide more than a shower, chess game, or a new pair of shoes. Shelter Volunteers show us that everyone is unique and valuable. They remind us that wherever we are, someone cares about us and wants to help.

To celebrate their gift, we’d like to introduce you to some of the unique individuals that mean so much to us:

Kyle, Carli and Erin open the Rock Bay Landing hygiene Erin Kyle Carliestation, which allows people to access showers and the clothing room. They clean counters, fill shampoo containers, and bring in cookies we’ve made for people to enjoy. Carli’s favourite part is bringing in cookies to share, while Kyle’s favourite job is sorting donated clothes and making new friends. What’s the most important part of volunteering to them? “Be kind, be kind, be kind!”

 

Zohar SZohar helps people access the public computers at Rock Bay Landing. “The reason I come to volunteer each week is the joy I have from the positive interaction with staff and clients. I feel I am appreciated for making a difference each time I come. The training workshops Cool Aid offers it’s volunteers are great and have helped me understand the social issues in our community. Volunteering creates awareness and is a great way to meet different people.”

 

Geri facilitates an open art therapy studio at Sandy Merriman House that isSMH1 Geri open to all women, whether they reside at the shelter or not. “I come every week because I feel making art is empowering in positive, nurturing ways. I see relaxation, social interaction, and building communication skills. There is a healing component in creativity. I am motivated by the courage and emotional strength it takes to survive in poverty, isolation and homelessness. I cannot imagine myself homeless, yet I try to be aware that it is always a possibility. Things can happen to any one of us that put us in that position.”

Eric M When Eric isn’t volunteering at Cool Aid’s shelters, he is serving our community through the armed forces, volunteering with AIDS Vancouver Island’s Men’s Wellness Program, or helping people prepare for the next Times Colonist 10K as a TC10K Clinic leader. “I volunteer with the hygiene department to ensure that people have access to clean clothes, showers, and shower supplies, and have a friendly face to say hi to. My favourite part is seeing the difference that a shower and clean clothes makes in someone’s life.”

 

Kat and Carmelle volunteer their acupuncture skills at Cool Aid shelters. Carmelle describes her volunteer role as “a needle poker, space holder, story listener, and herb smudger. I’m giving back to the community I came from. As an inner city youth I didn’t have access to a lot of health services. its extremely rewarding to offer the support to others you wish you had. There is a kinship that exists among people with a shared experience and it makes the work healing for me, too.”

Kat is a re-defining immigrant, slow-food cyclist, free range mom and realistic acupuncturist. “Homelessness in Victoria can be anybody: a mother, brother, grandparent or youth. Taking personal responsibility for the most vulnerable individuals in our community impacts your dignity, not just
theirs.”

On behalf of the hundreds of people you bring smiles to every day, thank you!

Every Step Counts TC10K 2015

Gillie In Douglas 20150108 Simon DesRochersYou deserve a high-five for another great race, Victoria!

On Sunday April 26th, 2015 the Every Step Counts team embarked on their 6th annual entry in the TC 10k. With dozens of runners, walkers and volunteers we raised over $6,000 for the team, and inspired thousands with our courageous stories and amazing finishing times!

Whether you came for the run, made a pledge or helped by cheering our team down the course, thank you.

We would also like to say a special thanks to the TC10K organizers, and their many generous sponsors for making this great community event happen – thank you!

Every Step Counts in an innovative community-based walking and running program that empowers individuals who are facing challenges with mental health, addiction and homelessness. In its sixth year, Every Step Counts fosters a welcoming and encouraging environment for the six hundred and sixty participants since 2009.

The TC 10k gives participants, friends, and supporters the opportunity to show off their hard work and commitment. Join our team to help support the future of Every Step Counts.

Photo courtesy of Simon DesRochers.

Eric Pedersen, Vice Chair

Lawyer, Velletta & Company

Eric PedersenEric Pedersen is a lawyer in Victoria practicing in the areas of employment, personal injury, human rights, environmental law and insurance litigation.  Eric graduated from the University of Victoria faculty of law in December 2011, and was called to the bar in February 2013.

While studying, Eric worked for the Ministry of Attorney General, and the Office of the Ombudsperson, where he contributed to the Ombudsperson’s report on Seniors’ Care.  He also worked at the First United Church shelter in Vancouver’s downtown east side, where he worked as an advocate for members of the community, providing advice and assistance with welfare, disability benefits, and supportive housing applications, and continued this work as a volunteer disability advocate in Victoria.

Eric joined the board in 2014, and serves as Vice Chair and Chair of the Planning & Governance Committee.

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You are registered for Transformations

TC 10k 2014Thank you for reserving your tickets for Transformations!

You will receive an email confirmation of the number of tickets purchased as well as your billing information. If you do not receive confirmation within 24 hours, or if you would like more information about this event or the program it supports, please contact Christopher Geater at cgeater@CoolAid.org or 250-414-4799.

Thank you so much for supporting Every Step Counts! We look forward to greeting you at the event.

Transformations Registration

Thank you for joining us in honouring Dr. Joe Haegert

Dr Joe enjoying a moment of solitude in his kayakThank you for reserving your tickets to Dr. Joe Haegert’s retirement Celebration on November 1st at the Royal B.C. Museum. We are so glad to have you with us as we celebrate Dr. Joe’s achievements and usher him towards a well-deserved and relaxing new phase of life.

You will receive a confirmation email shortly. If you do not receive confirmation within 24 hours, or if you would like more details about this event or Dr. Joe Haegert’s work with Cool Aid, please contact Alan Rycroft at arycroft@CoolAid.org or 250-414-4781.

Thank you for helping us honour the lifetime achievements of Dr. Haegert. We look forward to seeing you there!

Dr. Joe Haegert Celebration – Online Registration

Thank you for your feedback

Thank you for sharing your comments or concerns with us. Our staff will be in touch with you soon.

Thank you for caring about homelessness,

The Victoria Cool Aid Society

Run or Dye 2014 a huge success!

IMG_20140628_111212
Victoria’s first ever Run or Dye was a huge success, thanks to the 4,200 people who came out to participate and the 223 volunteers that made the event happen!

Here are some of the photos we took of the fun – click to see larger images:

“We had such a great time at Victoria’s 1st Run or Dye! Thank you so much to an AMAZING volunteer team that made it happen. <3" From Run or Dye 2014, posted by Every Step Counts on 6/29/2014 (10 items)

Generated by Facebook Photo Fetcher 2


Annual General Meeting June 25

Change. Renewal. Opportunity.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

You may remember at our last Annual General Meeting our Downtown Community Centre was in need of a change. Over a decade of providing free services to more than 7,000 people each year were beginning to show in the Centre’s interior spaces, and the needs of our community had changed significantly since those spaces were built.

Fortunately for Cool Aid, the Rotary Club of Victoria knows how to keep a good thing going.

For its 100th anniversary the Rotary Club of Victoria generously donated over $100,000 to renew our Community Centre. Last year, our Annual General Meeting was the very last event in the old Community Centre. This year we’d love to show you how beautiful change can be.

Please join us on Wednesday, June 25th at our renewed Downtown Community Centre for our Annual General Meeting, featuring a conversation with our Executive Director, Kathy Stinson.

Thank You!

Thank you so much for helping Every Step Counts this year at the Goodlife Fitness Victoria Marathon. Your participation will help Every Step Counts stay running all year!

A member of our team will be in touch with you soon.

 

Every Step Counts_horizontal 600 px

Meet Gillie, the Coach Who Makes Every Step Count

Gillie with her team

Over 500 people have run, walked, and jogged to a healthier life with Gillie’s help. Now she needs yours.

Fitness makes a lot of people uncomfortable, but Gillie Easdon has inspired hundreds of people to overcome the stigma of homelessness, mental illness and addictions and make positive change in their lives, one step at a time.

It has not been easy. Gillie’s work bridges the gap between health and poverty, but precisely because it fits directly in neither category Every Step Counts has operated for the past 5 years without government funding and consistently faces funding shortfalls.

That’s why we need your help. Every Step Counts needs the support of people like you to ensure Gillie is there for the people who need her.

  • a gift of $56.25 prepares a healthy meal for the whole team
  • a gift of $116.92 provides the space and equipment for one of four weekly runs
  • A gift of $176.38 purchases fitness gear for one of our runners
  • A gift of $469.64 pays the total costs of one session out of 208 each year!

Click the DONATE button above to give online, or call 250-414-4790 to donate by phone.

Not only will your gifts help keep Gillie’s team running, your donations help us prove that Every Step Counts is valued by our community to local businesses, community funders and government agencies.

You can also support Every Step Counts by coming out to events throughout the year. Look for us at the Times Colonist 10K, the Goodlife Fitness Marathon, and Run or Dye this year for more opportunities to donate, volunteer, and cheer on the courageous people who run with us each week.

On behalf of Gillie Easdon, the Every Step Counts team, and all of us here at Cool Aid, thank you for helping us come closer to ending homelessness in our community, one step at a time.

Community Helps Women in Shelter

March 11, 2014 – The Bottle Depot and 107.3 KOOL FM have each held super fundraisers for Sandy Merriman House, Cool Aid’s emergency shelter for women, in the last month, raising thousands of dollars for vulnerable women.

Thanks to huBottle Depot's Charity Donation Binndreds of thoughtful recyclers in the community, $1,916.85 was raised through the “charity donation bins” in front of Bottle Depot’s three locations. During the month of February, Cool Aid supporters dropped off their beverage containers in the charity bins rather than waiting in line for their refund.

“It is so nice to see local businesses doing something to help end homelessness in our community” said Fiona Hyslop, a long-time supporter of Sandy Merriman House.

Every month, Bottle Depot supports a local charity through these blue and yellow bins, which have raised over $82,000 since they started the project in 2010. “These donations mean we can say ‘yes’ to women who come to us in need of winter coats, bus tickets, toiletries, and other necessities throughout the year” said Christine O’Brien, Shelter Coordinator at Sandy Merriman House.

Charities supported over the years by Bottle Depot and their customers include CFAX Santas Anonymous, Cops for Cancer, Cycle for Hope, and many more. “It’s a great project and we feel lucky to be a part of it” said Kelly Gorman, Operations Manager for Bottle Depot. “If it weren’t for the community being behind it, we wouldn’t have $82,000 to give”.

Bins are accessible 24 hours a day outside all three Greater Victoria locations: 655 Queens Avenue, 4261 Glanford Avenue and 3961 Quadra Street. Check out the charity of the month next time you are dropping off your bottles.

KOOL FM sponsored a s107.3 KOOL FM logoold-out comedy show at local club Hecklers Bar & Grill last month and raised $1,833 thanks to a very happy crowd of supporters. The KOOL Comedy Night featured James Ball & His Funniest Friends with all proceeds supporting Sandy Merriman House for women.

Who says raising money for a good cause has to be hard and can’t be fun?!

Thanks so much to these wonderful businesses and all the people pitching in to make life a little better for women in our emergency shelter.

We wonder what will happen next…

 

Hope Roberts, Finance & Administration

Director of Finance & Administration, Hope Roberts has more than 20 years of experience in financial management for the not for profit sector. Hope holds a Certified General Accountant designation. She manages a strong finance/administrative team and prepares a $23.85 million budget for the Victoria Cool Aid Society. Hope brings a balance of extremely strong accounting knowledge coupled with strong systems implementation and effective personal leadership skills. Hope came to Cool Aid in 2011, and has renewed the accounting systems and policies since her arrival.

Hope is extremely adept at presenting financial information in an accessible and holistic way. She works hard to demystify the budgeting and accounting process for managers and volunteers on our Board of Directors. Hope is an avid dog trainer who balances her busy work life enjoying the outdoors and her Retrievers!

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Don McTavish, Residential Services

Don McTavish, Emergency Shelter ServicesDon has worked with the Victoria Cool Aid Society for 17 years, during which time he has been dedicated to the provision of housing and shelter for those most marginalized in our community.

Don is the Director of Residential Services and it was in this role that he was part of the team that envisioned and planned the purpose-built Rock Bay Landing facility that offers 84 shelter beds, 23 units of transitional housing (known as the Next Steps program) and two units of family shelter (the only ones in the Capital Region District). He  oversees all of Cool Aid’s shelters and housing programs, leading staff as they work together so that no one forced to sleep on the street or go hungry.

Don works closely with other agencies in this city dedicated to the elimination of homelessness.

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Ed Jones, Information Systems

Ed Jones, Information SystemsEd Jones is Manager of Information Systems at the Victoria Cool Aid Society. A graduate of Royal Roads University with a Microsoft Computer Systems Engineer certificate, Ed has been managing IT systems at Cool Aid since 2001. Ed has developed the IT department at Cool Aid from a two-server system to a network of 11 servers. His department provides technical support and assistance to 280 employees. He is responsible for IT supplies, purchasing, planning and is currently developing an intranet site to improve staff communication and client services. Ed is dedicated to enhancing access to technology for staff as well as clients who use computers in Cool Aid programs.

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Irene Haigh-Gidora, Community Health Services

Irene Haigh-Gidora on the streetIrene Haigh-Gidora is the Manager of Community Health Services for the Victoria Cool Aid Society. Irene has worked for over 30 years with the homeless and marginalized population in community health settings in Winnipeg and Victoria.

Irene developed and continues to manage the Cool Aid Community Health Centre comprised of a Medical Clinic and Dental Clinic employing 37 multidisciplinary staff, including seven doctors, advanced practice nurses, pharmacist, dentist, dental hygienist and alcohol and drug counsellors who provide assessment, treatment, counselling and referrals to the downtown street population. She also manages Cool Aid’s REES program (Resources, Education, Employment & Support) which partners with mental health consumers to provide services to aid clients in managing their mental illness.

Irene is a seasoned leader who effectively manages a multi-disciplinary team of professionals in a very dynamic environment. She brings grace, compassion and caring to her work and is well respected by clients, staff and volunteers.

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Melanie Fleming, Director of Human & Strategic Resources

Melanie Clarke, Human Resources & DevelopmentMelanie Fleming joined Cool Aid in 2000, with many years of administrative and change management experience in corporate leadership roles. Melanie is responsible for human resources, strategic planning and community relations.

As a long-standing member of the British Columbia Human Resource Management Association, Melanie is committed to cultivating positive relationships and high standards of professionalism and service delivery at all levels of the organization. During her time, Cool Aid’s employee pool has flourished from a small, dedicated team into a diverse group that spans a wide variety of professions, service models and buildings in the Capital Region.

Proud to be part of such a strong team, Melanie remains committed to improving services and supporting her colleagues by cultivating strategic vision, accountability and life-long professional development. In 2013, Melanie successfully completed the Strategic Management Certificate Program through Certified Management Accountants (CMA) of British Columbia.

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Kathy Stinson, CEO

Kathy Stinson, Executive DirectorKathy Stinson is a Chartered Professional Accountant (CPA, CMA) and has been providing leadership in the not-for-profit and public sectors for over 25 years. Kathy is well respected in Greater Victoria through her work with Boys and Girls Club Services, where she was Finance and Operations Leader until 2003. After a brief but rewarding stint with the Government of Nunavut, Kathy returned to BC’s Capital to work for the Victoria Cool Aid Society and has been their CEO/Executive Director since mid-2005.

A lifelong learner, Kathy earned a graduate certificate in project management from Royal Roads in 2001, and is currently pursuing a diploma in Urban Land Economics through UBC. Kathy is also participating in the CIH Canada Western Founders program, and is excited to be working towards achieving the CIHM designation.

Kathy served two terms on the board of the BC Non Profit Housing Association (BCNPHA) from 2009 to 2014, including two years as Chair. Kathy also served on the board of Leadership Victoria where she held the position of Treasurer for five years.

Kathy’s work has helped to build the capacity of Greater Victoria to identify and confront some of its key challenges. Whether leading initiatives like the creation of the Access Health Centre or working collaboratively with community groups like the Downtown Service Providers, or the Coalition to End Homelessness, Kathy has a talent and passion for bringing people together, helping the community create a better future.

In 2012, Kathy was honoured at the Victoria Leadership Awards with the inaugural United Way of Greater Victoria award for Collaboration and Partnership; and in 2013 Cool Aid received the Victoria Foundation Community Leadership Award.

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Arleen Pare, Director

Arleen Paré, DirectorWriter / Retired Social Worker

Arleen Paré is a Victoria poet and novelist with a Masters of Fine Arts from the University of Victoria. She has a Masters of Social Work from McGill University and a Masters of Arts from the University of British Columbia in Adult Education.

Arleen worked for two decades in Vancouver Community Mental Health Services and Programs, ultimately serving as Director of Mental Health Housing for Vancouver Coastal Health.

She moved to Victoria in 2003, and became a writer. Her first book, Paper Trail, was a finalist for the Dorothy Livesay BC Book Award for Poetry and won the Victoria Butler Book Prize in 2008. Her novel, Leaving Now, was released in 2012. Her third book, a collection of poetry called Lake of Two Mountains, won the Governor General’s Literary Award for Poetry in 2014. He Leaves His Face in the Funeral Car was released in 2015 and The Girls with Stone Faces will be released in 2017.

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Sandra Govender, Director

Sandra GovenderRealtor, Royal LePage Coast Capital Realty

Sandra came to the island in 2005 and joined Royal LePage Coast Capital Realty in 2009.  Prior to moving to Victoria, Sandra worked with Vancity for 10 years as the Treasury and FX Operations Manager.  Always the entrepreneur, she ran her small business in Victoria for several years before moving into Real Estate.  Previous experience with Vancity has shown her how important it is, as a business owner, to give back to the community.

Sandra is excited to join the Board of the Victoria Cool Aid Society and is looking forward to being part of this well respected and effective organization that is committed to helping those who need it most.

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Norman Gidney, Director

Norman Gidney, DirectorRetired Journalist
(Times Colonist and Founding Editor of Douglas Magazine)

Norman Gidney has been a newspaper reporter since student days at UBC in the late 1960s, mixed with time at The Canadian Press news service and a four-year appointment in corporate communications at BC Transit.

He edited two local magazines for a total of nine years, Victoria’s Business Report and more recently, Douglas magazine.

Widowed and remarried, Norman and his wife Mary have four grownup children between them and live in Metchosin where he volunteers as a Trails Coordinator.

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Heather Brazier, Chair

Heather Brazier, DirectorExecutive Lead
Integrated Policy, Legislation and Operations Division
BC Ministry of Community, Sport and Cultural Development

Heather Brazier, with a 20+ year career in the BC public service, has considerable experience in social policy and finance.

She has held several senior leadership positions in the public service, including Director of Social Policy at Treasury Board Staff, Executive Director of Housing Policy and Project Director for the Impaired Driving Initiative. While at Housing Policy, Heather was honoured to be a member of the Mayor’s Task Force on Homelessness, Mental Illness and Addictions, and subsequently, a member of the inaugural management committee for the Greater Victoria Coalition to End Homelessness.

Working on housing issues was one of the most rewarding experiences of Heather’s career. She believes strongly in a housing first approach, as housing is absolutely fundamental to people’s well-being and to their ability to receive additional supports. In her role as Director on the Victoria Cool Aid Society Board of Directors, Heather is excited to be part of a community of caring individuals working to assist our less fortunate neighbours.

Heather is Chair of the Victoria Cool Aid Society Board of Directors.

Heather has a BA in Economics and a Masters in Public Administration, both from the University of Victoria. She is an avid skier and sailor, and is the Treasurer for the Swiftsure International Yacht Race.

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Claudia Wilimovsky (past Chair)

Claudia Wilimovsky (Past Chair)Independent Communications Consultant

Claudia Wilimovsky is an independent consultant who specializes in communications, project management and human resources.  Prior to becoming a consultant she worked in various communications positions for the BC provincial government. Claudia currently works part-time for the BC Representative for Children and Youth.

Claudia has been on the Victoria Cool Aid Society Board of Directors since 2006, and was Chair of the Board from 2009 to 2012. She currently holds the position of Past Chair on the Board. In her address to the Annual General Meeting in 2012, Claudia said: “It is exciting to be a part of a highly dynamic organization that together with its partners makes substantial progress – year after year – to end homelessness in the Capital Region.”

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Rick Marshall, Secretary

Rick Marshall, SecretaryRetired Civil Servant

Rick Marshall retired in 2014, after 25 years with the Ministry of Health, most recently as Associate Director of Policy. Prior to this Rick worked for several years in non-profit service agencies in Manitoba and Victoria.

Rick has served on Boards of various non-profit social service organizations, including the Victoria Native Friendship Centre, The Law Centre and the Capital Region Housing Corporation.  He was appointed by municipal Council to sit on the Oak Bay Parks & Recreation Commission, and also serves on the Board of the Board Voice Society of BC. Rick has broad experience with community-based human service agencies dealing with social planning, services to seniors, alcohol abuse, mental health, housing, employment, criminal justice, legal aid and services to Aboriginal people.

His expertise as a public-sector manager/policy consultant and analyst with strong applied skills in the areas of organization analysis, policy development, program planning and implementation, and issues of access to health services, assist Rick in his role as a Director.

Rick joined the Board in 2010, and is proud to support Cool Aid’s commitment of clear and principled accountability to our clients, community, supporters and funders.

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Angela Williams, Vice Chair

Angela William, Vice ChairChief Operating Officer, Museum Operations, Royal BC Museum

Angela Williams has spent more than two decades improving organizations by putting their people first. Angela is passionate about guiding the power of people and their ideas, and as the Executive champion for the Royal BC Museum’s site development and renewal project, leads a team of professionals who oversee: property management and operations; risk management and security services; human resources and volunteer services; marketing and corporate partnerships; public and media relations; information technology; exhibitions; visitor services, collections access services; and the Royal BC Museum’s fundraising program.

Angela’s work in the human resources field has been recognized through recognition from the BC Human Resource Management Association as a 2006 Award of Excellence finalist; and her championing of sustainability initiatives within the Royal BC Museum earned her recognition by BC Hydro as a Powersmart finalist in 2009.

Angela joined the Royal BC Museum Corporation in 2003 after 14 years in human resources and information technology departments at three provincial ministries. She has received a masters-level certificate in leadership from Royal Roads University; is a designated Canadian Human Resource Professional (CHRP); studied business and accounting at Camosun College; and studied Sciences (Math and Physics) and English at the University of Victoria. Williams is also an active volunteer in the community, acting as Vice Chair of the Victoria CoolAid Society; and was elected Secretary/Treasurer of the Tourism Industry Association of BC in 2013.

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Bradley Clark, Director and Past Chair

Bradley Clark, Board ChairInvestment Advisor, Raymond James Ltd.

Brad Clark is a Financial Advisor at Raymond James and has worked in the Investment Services industry since 1997. Brad graduated from the University of Western Ontario in 2000 with a BA in Economics. He additionally completed his certification in 2009 to become a Certified Financial Planner. A firm believer in continuing education, Brad continues to enhance his experience and expertise through currently working on attaining the designation of Chartered Investment Manager.

Brad takes pride in community involvement and currently serves as the Past Chair of the Board of Directors for the Victoria Cool Aid Society and he has been a member since 2008. Brad is also proud to support the 2012 Midget AA BC Hockey Championships.

Originally from Toronto, Brad enjoys spending time with his wife, Jody, and his two daughters, Ava and Aislynn. When he is not working with clients, Brad enjoys golf, hockey and travel.

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Conversation with FairWay Woods Senior Jerry Dyment

If you had told Jerry Dyment ten years ago that he would soon be living on long-term disability, as one of the first residents of Cool Aid’s FairWay Woods facility for seniors at risk, he wouldn’t have accepted it.

He was a successful entrepreneur who had once had partnerships in two grocery stores, a father of three, an active community contributor in the Toronto area, and a former church elder and Sunday school teacher. How could he possibly have predicted that a “new start” in BC would end with a diagnosis of severe bipolar disorder at the Vancouver Island Health Authority’s Eric Martin Pavilion?

Jerry had been given the diagnosis once before, after he asked his brother to check him into a Mississauga, Ontario hospital. But the bipolar label didn’t make sense to him then and he refused to let it stick. “I just didn’t know what it was. I understand manic-depressive, but how the hell can I be manic-depressive?” he recalled. His biggest fear was that they would commit him for psychiatric treatment.

It wasn’t until he immigrated to BC, where the bipolar diagnosis came up again, that Jerry realized things were never going to be the same. “I moved here from Toronto, and I was hoping to get restarted in a small business of some kind and unfortunately, or fortunately, I ended up in the hospital and they sent me to Eric Martin,” he recounted, sitting at the table in the patio garden outside FairWay Woods.

This time he got it; a new phase of life had begun.

A decade later, at 66, Jerry is wiser — a man you can tell has not been defeated by his condition, who has instead learned more about himself by adapting to a radically changed mode of living. He’s not a businessman anymore, but he is a family man still.  He continues to contribute to his community in new ways… none of which would be possible without the stable home base he’s found at FairWay Woods in Langford.

One of the things he’s had to confront is booze. Alcoholism and drug use are, for many, ways of coping with underlying problems. Jerry didn’t see his use of alcohol as anything but a normal, even cultural trait. He remembers as a teen, growing up in Prince Edward Island, watching his uncles imbibing out of a brown paper bag by the threshing machine in his grandfather’s barn.

“You learn those habits, that’s what my doctor says. I guess my Dad — I’d seen his habits — so you just carry on… It’s hereditary in that sense.” But liquor, it turned out, was a self-administered antidote for a serious disorder that would not go away.

But neither his bipolar diagnosis nor continued bouts with alcoholism are going to ruin Jerry’s life — not now. The first thing you notice when you enter his third floor corner unit at FairWay Woods is the collection of framed photos on a small hall table. Children and grandchildren are clustered together in this crowded space — reminders that he’s connected to a network of people he cares about, and who care about him.

Without a place to call home — a secure kitchen, living and dining area, bathroom and bedroom — that kind of simple shrine to family would not be possible. That’s why the Victoria Cool Aid Society thinks facilities like the 32-unit FairWay Woods are so important: you can’t begin building a life until you are in a place you can call your own.

Jerry agrees. “For me there couldn’t be anything better,” he said of FairWay Woods. “It’s totally perfect. In fact, the whole health and social system opened its arms to me and I need to always be willing to make it part of my life.”

Residents are provided one meal a day and have access to facilities that include a TV-computer room and a fitness room. Jerry is also thankful for the staff at FairWay Woods. “We’ve got people here who’ve got years of experience in the field,” he said. “People can come here and be safe; I can come here and be safe.”

His own experience with Cool Aid has convinced Jerry to volunteer so the organization can do more. He noted that Cool Aid is part of the Coalition to End Homelessness in Victoria by 2018. Said Jerry, “We’re working at raising $4 million to get the housing in place that gives people someplace to live.”

It’s a big challenge, but Jerry knows better than most that we have to begin somewhere.

Hillside Terrace Referral Process

Hillside Terrace was designed to serve individuals who require the services of the Island Health Assisted Living Program, but whose behaviours or challenges prevent them from accessing most Assisted Living buildings. Staff at Hillside Terrace are trained to handle problematic behaviours that are sometimes associated with a history of homelessness, addictions and/or mental health issues, which allows us to create a more tolerant environment than usual.

Smoking is permitted within tenants’ apartments and cats that are properly cared for are permissible with the prior approval of the building manager.

The building is designated for people aged 55 or older, however exceptions may be made based on care needs and ability to reside with a primarily senior population.

What are the basic criteria for acceptance at Hillside Terrace?

All referrals to Hillside Terrace must meet the eligibility criteria for Home and Community Care and for Assisted Living Case Management. Some of the pre-requisites include:

  • Canadian citizen or permanent resident (landed immigrant) status
  • Resident of BC for three months prior to admission
  • Has been receiving home supports for three months prior to admission
  • Requires assistance with or cueing for personal care
  • Requires daily assistance with medication
  • Requires two meals provided per day
  • Requires weekly light housekeeping services
  • Can independently mobilize themselves to all required areas of the building
  • Has the cognitive ability to direct their own care
  • Does not exhibit signs of dementia
  • Understands associated costs, responsibilities and exit criteria in order to make an informed choice

What is required of the resident?

The applicant must agree to accept assistance with personal care needs, and to participate and comply with the normal requirements of the Assisted Living program. These include eating meals in a common dining room, weekly light housekeeping, medication management and other home support services as required.

Since meals and other activities take place in common areas of the building, potential residents must be willing and able to live in relative peace with their neighbours within a social, community oriented setting. It is an expectation that tenants will work together with the building staff and the Assisted Living case manager to resolve any potential conflicts or issues to ensure behaviours do not create undue risk for other fellow residents and staff. Violence and extreme verbal abuse are not tolerated.

Rent for Assisted Living is calculated based on income and assets as declared on income tax statements. This makes it critical that residents submit their income tax returns on time. Doing so will also ensure that eligibility for Fair Pharmacare is maintained.

How are referrals prioritized?

Admissions are not based solely on a chronological waiting list, but are primarily based on the identified needs of the applicant, perceived fit with the resources available and the anticipated impact on the care and support needs of the current tenants.

Why was my client denied access?

While every effort is made to house people based on the highest need with the fewest barriers possible, we also have a responsibility to maintain the safety and well being of everyone else in the building. Therefore, applicants may be denied access to Hillside Terrace at Victoria Cool Aid Society’s discretion. Some examples of why people have been denied in the past include:

  • Extreme tendencies towards violent or other threatening behaviour
  • Active in the illicit drug trade
  • Requiring use of an oxygen tank while addicted to cigarette smoking
  • History of fire safety risks
  • History of extreme damage to property

How do I refer my client to Hillside Terrace?

Applicants to Hillside Terrace must undergo assessment by Home and Community Care to determine eligibility for Assisted Living. It is highly recommended that clients have an advocate, such as a family member or case manager, who can assist them through the intake process.

For information and access to Home and Community Care (South Island), please call (250) 388-2273.

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