As the number of people sleeping outside Our Place in downtown Victoria continues to grow, the community centre that serves the city’s most vulnerable is getting set to provide more space inside.
With the help of B.C. Housing, the non-profit will open a new night shelter able to accommodate 35 people in the basement of its facility at 919 Pandora on October 1st.
“Every evening, Our Place staff will transform a small recreational space in the basement to accommodate 35 mats,” said Our Place CEO Don Evans.
“This will give 35 people the security of knowing they have a bed for the night, every night, over the winter period.”
Evans says they have a waiting list of over 40 people every night for their existing shelter at nearby First Metropolitan United Church.
Its estimated as many as 70 people have been sleeping overnight outside Our Place in recent weeks.
“That tells us we desperately need more shelter space,” said Evans.
The search had been on for locations for a new winter shelter throughout Greater Victoria, but when a suitable location couldn’t be found Our Place decided to use its downtown drop-in centre.
On Tuesday, Grant McKenzie of Our Place showed the set-up to CHEK News.
“So these are new mats. We’re opening up not just a winter service. But it’s going to be every night for people throughout the winter so everyone knows they have a place to sleep,” said McKenzie.
“Having an extra 35 beds will get an extra 35 people inside. And give them the stability of knowing they have a place to sleep that night. It’s not going to take care of everybody.”
The non-profit also announced that it is expanding the hours of its hygiene area into the evening to help their clients who work during the day. For the first time, hot showers will be available from 6-9 p.m. seven days per week.