The Pidcock shelter in Courtenay is opening six transition units for clients seeking a long-term solution. Dean Stoltz has more.
Contractors are spending this week putting the final touches on a $700,000.00 renovation to the Salvation Army's Pidock Avenue shelter in Courtenay.
"So the 18-bed shelter that we have has been expanded," said Brent Hobden, community services director for the Salvation Army in Courtenay. "Now we have 18 shelter beds along with six transition units for longer stay guests and a pet-friendly room which is kind of a new innovation for the Pidcock shelter."
But it's those six new transition beds that have officials the most excited.
Instead of clients who stay for a night at a time with no real plan to escape the streets, the new beds come with hope and a plan for a better future.
"They come complete with 24/7 programming so now we will be able to take people who are expressing interest in owning their own home, being able to help them with life skills, with budgeting, with resumes, with job skills in order to give them whatever it is they need to get back out into the workforce, so it’s a very exciting time for us here in the Comox Valley," said Hobden.
Andrew Zeabin is staying at the shelter with his dogs and can see himself taking advantage of the new program.
"It’s a good thing to have," said Zeabin. "People can give you good advice and understand what’s needed and what you need to do to get up to that step."
"There’s a real problem with that gap between people who get in the shelter and they want to make changes in their life and they can’t do it. There’s a big gap in the services so that people are stuck," said Morgan Clark who also uses the shelter.
The shelter's regular 18-bed capacity can still be expanded under extreme weather protocols using temporary mats.
There will be no limit to how long someone can stay in the transition units as long as they're committed to the program, a program that with the Salvation Army at least, is unique on the island.
"It’ll be a test case if you will and I think it’s going to be exciting. It’s going to be very, very productive and I think that we'll probably start to see more of this kind of scenario roll out into other communities," said Hobden.
The grand opening of the renovated Pidcock shelter is Saturday.