The B.C. government has purchased property in Nanaimo to build temporary workforce modular housing, which is where some of the Discontent City homeless campers will live.
There will be 80 units of temporary modular housing at the property at 250 Terminal Avenue. The city is also providing land at 2020 Labieux Road for another 90 units of temporary housing. The modular housing will be repurposed-modular housing which will allow BC Housing to expedite the delivery and installation of the units. The housing will be similar to the temporary modular housing that was delivered in Surrey for people that had been camping along 135A Street.
The cost to purchase the site at 250 Terminal Avenue was approximately $2 million. The site on the Labieux Road is city-owned property. The total capital cost to supply and install the modular housing at both sites is approximately $1.6 million.
“We want to facilitate an end to the tent city by getting people into safe and stable homes as soon as possible. The workforce modular housing has been purchased and is on its way to Nanaimo, and both projects will be open by late November 2018. These buildings will provide safe, secure temporary housing while more permanent housing can be built in the city,” Municipal Affairs and Housing Minister Selina Robinson said in a statement.
The province is also asking the city to use a planned phased approach to the closure of Discontent City at 1 Port Drive. Approximately 300 people reside in the tent city, which was set up in May. According to the provincial government, the phased approach would involve security and monitoring of the camp while the homeless campers remain there until the temporary housing is open. It would also involve outreach services to connect people experiencing homelessness to housing, the removal of vehicles from the camp, as well as site clean-up and garbage removal to address fire and safety concerns.
If accepted, a team including city staff, RCMP, bylaw officers and Island Health will work with outreach workers, BC Housing and other partner agencies. The province said as long as residents are co-operating with support services, they can remain at the site.
“Any other approach would force the campers to scatter throughout the city while they wait for housing, which would not be in the best interests of either the campers or the community of Nanaimo as a whole,” Robinson said.
On Sept. 21, a B.C. Supreme Court judge ruled everyone must leave the encampment within 21 days.
Nanaimo Mayor Bill McKay said the city is in favour of a planned approach but they are up against the injunction. Over the next few days, Nanaimo city staff will be looking at whether they can fast-track the project and will also work with different agencies and the tent city resident regarding the plan for transition.
McKay also said that it is great news that they have have been able to secure 170 units.
“It’s fantastic news,” McKay said.