Community working group, job opportunities could come to Victoria’s Caledonia Place


Victoria councillors will soon decide if a community working group, which would help ease concerns for residents in and around Caledonia Place, will come to fruition.

That motion, brought forward by councillors Krista Loughton and Dave Thompson, would provide up to $50,000 to Our Place Society to create a “working group,” which would set up a committee comprised of Caledonia Place residents, North Park Neighbourhood Association (NPNA) members, Our Place staff, and residents living nearby.

The facility is formerly known as Tiny Town.

The funding would also go towards creating an advisory committee of Caledonia Place residents and a pilot project that would open up work opportunities for those living in the temporary housing project.

“I’m thrilled, I’m thrilled,” said Loughton.

Inspired by a similar Vancouver Island program, Loughton wanted to create a motion that would bring members from both sides of the issue together.

The Village, a 30-unit temporary supportive housing unit in Duncan, has a similar program in place.

“The neighbours and the residents and the staff worked together at The Village in a grassroots community-based way,” said Loughton

“Within a year of The Village opening, the crime rate dropped by 18 per cent, and many of the people who opposed it, actually started volunteering at the village.”

In Victoria, the motion passed 7-1 during the March 14 committee of the whole meeting, with Coun. Marg Gardiner opposed and Coun. Chris Coleman absent. It will still need to be ratified by council, but it’s already gained support from those who opposed the reopening of Caledonia Place.

“I’m willing to go out on a limb on this,” said Coun. Stephen Hammond, who voted in favour of the motion.

NPNA, which previously said it wanted the supportive housing lot removed, adds that it welcomes the motion.

“I think that the city stepped up. I think this is money that will be well spent,” said Sean Kahil, NPNA board member.

Kahil tells CHEK News that before Tiny Town existed, the association supported residents at an encampment next to Royal Athletic Park by providing stipends for completed work.

“We did these things before and it had a lot fewer issues,” said Kahil.

The motion is well supported, but both sides argue that Victoria taxpayers should not foot the bill and that it should be the province.

“Should it be successful then we can bring it to the province to work with us to implement it in other neighbourhoods and other municipalities hopefully,” said Loughton.

Loughton adds that an overconcentration of support services creates issues for both housed and unhoused persons. She argues that entire regions should each step up to distribute the responsibility.

The motion is being presented at the April 4 meeting for consideration.

Oli HerreraOli Herrera

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