Shelter and Transitional Housing on Ellice Street in Victoria
The Victoria Cool Aid Society, with funding from the province’s BC Housing, and land supplied by the City of Victoria, is constructing a new, purpose-built, emergency shelter with transitional housing in Burnside Gorge. The new facility will better house and support clients that currently stay at the much smaller Streetlink shelter plus create the region’s first shelter units for homeless families. The May 2008 Land Use Application is available on this web site.
The size and location of the site allows for a purpose-designed building that can achieve three key objectives that the existing, cramped Streetlink facility can no longer provide:
- Sufficient space to accommodate all shelter clients within the building, including courtyard space internal to the property.
- Provision of support services within the building, such as helping people find work and permanent housing, meaning there will be less activity on the street.
- Staff levels that ensure full monitoring and counselling.
The Ellice Street shelter and transitional housing project is just one, small part of a comprehensive regional strategy to end homelessness that includes the concentrated and coordinated efforts of several provincial ministries, Vancouver Island Health Authority, the City of Victoria and social service providers like Cool Aid. Other initiatives include, for example, Our Place transitional housing on Pandora and future projects such as theACCESS Health Centre.
The Mayor’s Task Force expert panel confirmed that permanent, supportive housing is the route to end homelessness, but it also recognized that there will always be a need for emergency shelter space and transitional housing within the continuum of supportive services.
The question has been asked if the Ellice Street location is appropriate for a shelter. The short answer is “yes”. Homeless people already reside in the neighbourhood and in areas beyond. The site was identified by the City as a potential candidate for the homelessness initiative.
Working with the neighbourhood, City staff, Victoria Police and other agencies we can make a difference in people’s lives and also integrate into the neighbourhood. In fact, Cool Aid believes that the new services can improve the neighbourhood environment, as has happened with many of our buildings. (Read, for example, about Cool Aid’s Next Steps Transitional Shelter and the Good Neighbour Agreement that was negotiated as part of its development process or our FairWay Woods supported housing for seniors.)
The project on Ellice Street will provide 80 shelter beds, two family shelter units, 23 self-contained, supportive housing units, plus adequate space for support and transition services. As well, the emergency shelter could provide an additional 20 temporary beds for extreme, winter weather conditions.
The shelter units will be designed so that they can be converted in the future to longer-term housing.
Some have wondered if perhaps the project is too big. If you look at other communities you will find that many successful shelters and transitional housing projects are much larger. There are good, existing examples of how purpose-built shelters can be integrated into a neighbourhood, successfully co-existing with other businesses and activities, such as the Yukon Housing Centre in Vancouver.
We believe that members of the Burnside Gorge neighbourhood, and other Victorians, are caring citizens who know that people who are homeless are not that much different than us – each one of them is somebody’s mother or father, brother or sister, son or daughter, friend, neighbour or acquaintance. It is with this shared understanding in mind that we promise to work with the Burnside Gorge Neighbourhood Association, the immediate neighbours, and others such as Centennial Day Care, to ensure that your concerns are identified and that solutions are found that work for everyone.
Victoria Cool Aid Society is deeply committed to full and transparent consultations to ensure that this project meets the needs of its neighbours and all Victorians. That is why we participated in a well-attended community meeting on February 18, after BC Housing announced their support for the Ellice Street shelter and transitional housing. At that meeting we listened carefully, and took to heart, the concerns of dozens of residents, businesses and landowners.
An introductory meeting for neighbours was held at Centennial United Church at the end of February, which created a committee to provide input during the planning process. Meetings with this committee and at least one additional neighbourhood meeting will be held in April at the Centennial United Church.
The Burnside Gorge Community Association Land-Use Committee is also involved in the planning process. An official meeting for the community was held on May 12.
The City of Victoria has rezoned the 535 Ellice Street location to allow the construction of the new shelter and transitional housing to take place. Feel free to contact Cool Aid or Victoria City Hall if you want to share your thoughts.
- Minutes, Neighbourhood Working Committee, first meeting, March 26, 2008
- Minutes, Neighbourhood Working Committee, April 2, 2008
- Minutes, Neighbourhood Working Committee, April 16, 2008
- Minutes, Neighbourhood Working Committee, April 23, 2008
- Minutes, Neighbourhood Working Committee, May 7, 2008
- Minutes, Neighbourhood Working Committee, September 10, 2008
Stay tuned for updates and the date and location of meetings you may wish to attend.
If you would like more information on the shelter and transitional housing on Ellice Street, or if you would like to share your thoughts with Cool Aid, please visit our contact page to make a comment, or call 250-383-1977.
At any time in the rezoning process you may also contact the City of Victoria’s Mayor and Council by e-mail, phone (250-385-5711) or written correspondence (1 Centennial Square, Victoria BC, V8W 1P6). You may also contact City Planning Staff by phoning 250-361-0212.