B.C. Housing, Island Health and the City of Victoria have created 50 new shelter spaces where members of the street community can isolate or recover if they contract the COVID-19 virus.
“If somebody is COVID-positive outside, there is a place for them to go,” Victoria Mayor Lisa Helps said Friday.
The new shelter spaces include an estimated 30 beds in existing shelters and supportive housing.
An additional 20 pop-up spaces will be established at a new location that is expected to open in early November, once staff are trained and the space is set up, said Attorney General David Eby, minister responsible for housing
The location of the pop-up spaces will not be disclosed publicly to ensure the privacy of people who use them, said Eby. However, Island Health will provide the immediate neighbourhood with more information in coming weeks.
The new shelter spaces will have isolation plans guided by Island Health for those who have tested positive for COVID-19.
In recent weeks, the number of homeless people in Victoria who have contracted COVID-19 has increased.
Dr. Richard Stanwick, chief medical health officer for Island Health, said the risk of COVID transmission to the public from people who are unsheltered or have unstable housing is low.
The spaces are in addition to about 500 supportive housing and shelter spaces that have opened throughout the city since 2018, as well as about 430 additional permanent supportive homes that are in development and 287 self-isolation spaces in Victoria.
All of the existing sites continue to have isolation plans in place.