The City of Victoria has announced that Council will be allocating over $115,000 to provide mobile showers and outreach services for people sheltering outdoors.
According to a press release from the City, the showers and outreach services – such as warm meals and clothing – will be funded through $115,420 in grants.
The funding will provide these services until the end of March 2021, said the City.
“The ongoing pandemic has reduced access to indoor shelters and supports for people experiencing homelessness and has laid bare the many gaps in our social fabric,” said Mayor Lisa Helps. “We’re grateful to the federal and provincial governments for the Restart funding so we can provide basic hygiene services to people who need them the most.”
Victoria City Council notes that more than $6.5 million has been provided by the provincial and federal governments as part of the ‘COVID-19 Safe Restart Grant for Local Governments.’
The decision to allocate funding towards showers and outreach services was made because more people are having to live outdoors this winter due to the decreased capacity of regular shelters due to COVID-19, as well as the pause on extreme weather shelter beds this winter.
The City says the money from the federal-provincial “Restart” funding will be divided among not-for-profit organizations operating in Victoria.
The Salvation Army will receive $86,520 to establish a mobile shower trailer that will be circulating five days per week to various sheltering locations.
The Umbrella Society for Addictions and Mental Health will also receive $22,400 to deliver community care services and meals to Victoria’s vulnerable population.
According to the press release, Victoria will be investing in expanded shower hours at Our Place Society on Pandora Avenue to 13 hours daily, seven days a week.
The City adds that public washrooms in parks are currently open 24/7 with enhanced cleaning protocols.
The mobile shower investment comes after the City deconstructed showers in Beacon Hill Park, which had been built by a community group named Showers for the Unhoused.
The group installed facilities without getting the go-ahead from the City of Victoria early on in November. Due to the lack of approval and permits, city staff denied the group access to water in order to run the showers.
The city said the two homemade showers were unauthorized and potentially dangerous, which ultimately led to their deconstruction.