WATCH: A controversial temporary shelter in Victoria is slated to close the end of April, but the Province is asking the City of Victoria to extend the lease for My Place. Monica Martinez reports.
When My Place Transitional Housing opened in January it had a firm closing date – April 30th, but now there is a possibility the temporary shelter could remain open months longer.
“The issue of homelessness a crisis in our city,” said City Councillor Charlayne Thornton-Joe.
Earlier this week, the province asked the city to consider extending the shelter’s lease for a year.
And at Thursday’s council meeting, the city decided to consider it, but only until September 30th. But first they want to hear from the public.
“We are having a consultation on April 11th where we get to hear what the neighbours found, were their fears realized, was their neighbourhood improved with My Place being there, are there still concerns?”
Thornton-Joe said considering the extension was a difficult decision for council, who had initially assured the public the shelter would only be open for four months.
But she said groups who initially opposed the project, had a change of heart.
“I have heard from many that it has actually improved the neighbourhood with the extra security. It has brought together a lot of groups,” she said.
It is good news for people living here, who have few options.
“If this place was to close down it would be really hard for a quite a few people. They would be back out on the streets,” said Poncho Lanoie who lives at My Place.
“You get to feel like a human being here and not like you are on the street. Probably everybody in this place would like to see it extended,” said Danny McPhee.
The shelter’s executive director, Don Evans, said the 40 spaces are full, with 50 people on the waiting list.
“There would be a real challenge if the end of April came and lease wasn’t extended because we have people here who probably won’t have a place to go. With the fire at the Traveller’s Inn, that is just making the problem worse in the community, so we need places like this to remain open,” said Evans.
He said they’ve been working with neighbourrs to mitigate any concerns, and have developed a good relationship with the school across the street and the parent advisory council.
The shelter will eventually have to move, as the fire hall next door will likely need the space in the near future.