Parksville’s supportive housing opening soon

WatchOfficials say Orca Place will benefit the entire community

A Parksville senior got a sneak peek Tuesday at what will soon be her new home.

Construction crews are putting the finishing touches on Orca Place, the supportive housing complex that’s been a source of contention for many neighbours during the past 18 months.

The three-story modular housing has 52 units with 24-7 staffing and supports onsite.

A BC government MLA at an official opening Tuesday said the project is much needed.

“These homes and ones like them that are opening across the province are changing the lives of people in the community who are experiencing homelessness,” said Sheila Malcolmson, Nanaimo’s MLA.

Island Crisis Care, the society that will operate the facility, says anyone who lives here needs to have an action plan.

“The trained staff of Orca Place are ready and excited to walk alongside the residents as they learn how to be successful tenants, build on their inherent strengths, acquire new skills, heal, find hope, set and reach now attainable goals while always fostering healthy relationships,” said Susanne Lee, Island Crisis Care Society’s Chair.

The society was one of two operators that came under fire in Nanaimo this past winter after the residents of B.C.’s largest tent city moved into two supportive housing complexes.

Nanaimo RCMP reported a spike in police calls around them.

Malcolmson says that emergency housing was rushed to get the homeless out of the cold before winter, unlike this housing in Parksville.

“This is an example of what happens when we work together and plan ahead on a long term basis. This is what modular housing that the new BC government has brought in across the province in virtually every other community,” said Malcolmson.

On Tuesday those interested were getting their first tour of the property.

Dorthy Ruppert is a future resident who is homeless until Orca Place is ready.

“So I just need a room for three weeks until they open,” said Ruppert.

The 85-year-old got to see her future home for the first time Tuesday.

“It’s exactly what I hoped it would be like and it’s big enough for me. I don’t need anything more. I’m so happy for this,” she said.

Ruppert will be among those moving into their new homes in three weeks. A move that promises to be life-changing.

Kendall HansonKendall Hanson

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