New location proposed for Duncan extreme weather shelter


WATCH: There’s optimism in Duncan that a long needed extreme weather shelter for women may finally have found a suitable location. An empty concession stand across from the Island Savings Centre and Vancouver Island University could fit the bill and is up for a vote before North Cowichan council this week.

Nanita Wong says she would be one of the first in line to use the extreme weather shelter for women in Duncan if it had one.

“We need it definitely,” said Wong.

Right now the homeless 53-year-old is couch surfing and camping for shelter. She said it is a dangerous way to lie, since women are more often targeted for assaults and theft.

“It’s a high risk,” said Wong.

“They’ll take anything to everything. It’s more than meets the eye sometimes when you’re out there.”

The Duncan Food Bank’s Colleen Fuller says there a lot of women like Wong out there.

“People are living wherever they can find shelter,” said Fuller. “There’s just so little affordable housing.”

Attempts to set up a cold weather shelter for women have been shot down twice in recent months in Duncan. Neighbours stood up in loud opposition when one was planned for the old Charles Hoey School since it was next to a daycare and the second at the former Duncan Primary School site was near two schools.

Now, a third option is on the table and is looking the likeliest yet. The location is an empty lot next to the Island Savings Centre and Vancouver Island University.

“It is big enough to house the kind of population that CWAV (Cowichan Women Against Violence Society) is talking about which is 15 women,” said Cowichan School District Board Chair Candace Spilsbury.

The Cowichan Valley School District has agreed to lease an old concession stand it owns and the plan is going before North Cowichan council Wednesday for approval.

The shelter already meeting controversy. The concession stand is just steps away from a children’s daycare.

“It just blew my mind to think that they would put it so close to a place where children play,” said Cowichan resident Gabrielle Camplair, whose children attend the daycare.

“We plan to have a big group there,” said Natasha Picray about the North Cowichan council meeting this week. “To represent that we do not feel its okay for this location.”

These women hope council will side with them on the issue, which will make a third failed shelter attempt.

Skye RyanSkye Ryan

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