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Mount Tolmie shelter residents move into new Yates Street facility

The 46-unit building will be staffed 24/7 to provide meals, employment assistance and referrals to addiction treatment and recovery services

A new supportive-housing facility on Yates Street will welcome its first residents this week from a shelter at the decommissioned Mount Tolmie Hospital.

The 46-unit building at 1176 Yates St., called The Juniper, is operated by PHS Community Services Society.

It will be staffed 24/7 to provide meals, life-skills training, employment assistance, referrals to addiction treatment and recovery services and wellness checks.

Ten people are expected to move in each day starting Tuesday from the Mount Tolmie shelter, where about 30 people remain, said Avery Taylor, director of operations for PHS in Victoria. That shelter will then be empty.

B.C. Housing’s lease on the Mount Tolmie site expires on Nov. 30. Long-term plans for the site, owned by Island Health, have yet to be determined, a B.C. Housing spokesperson said.

The remaining rooms at The Juniper will be filled with people coming from other shelters and some coming directly off the street, Taylor said. The building is expected to be fully occupied by mid-December.

Each unit has a private bathroom, shower and kitchenette with a full-sized fridge, microwave and hot plate. Four units are wheelchair-accessible.

The province provided approximately $15 million for the project and will provide annual funding to operate it.

Grace Lore, MLA for Victoria-Beacon Hill who attended the opening announcement of the Juniper Monday, said that stable housing and supports allow people to build communities, recover and thrive, leading to healthier and safer communities for everyone.

“These are services that folks in our community need now. They’re also critical to breaking the cycle of homelessness,” she said.

The Juniper is the fifth of six new projects in the capital region that will create more than 280 permanent supportive homes for people experiencing homelessness.

A supportive-housing project on Meares Street opened last month to provide 48 homes to those age 19 to 27.

A building at 953 and 959 Balmoral Rd. is currently under construction to bring 56 new units of supportive housing for people experiencing homelessness. Residents are expected to begin moving in next spring.

regan-elliott@timescolonist.com