Campbell River restaurant to be converted to transitional housing

The province has bought a former Campbell River restaurant to create transitional housing for 20 people without homes.

B.C. Housing spent $985,000 to buy the Rose Bowl Restaurant at 1221 Cedar St., which will be renovated to create 20 beds, as well as shower and toilet facilities. The housing project will be managed by the Vancouver Island Mental Health Society, which will provide support around the clock.

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People are expected to move in next month and stay until more permanent supportive housing is built.

“We feel very fortunate that the province has recognized Campbell River does have a need, and has had for some time,” said Taryn O’Flanagan, CEO of the Vancouver Island Mental Health Society. “We have noticed that shelters are at capacity, and we’re having to turn people away.”

A 2018 homelessness census identified 81 people in the city of 35,000. O’Flanagan said that number has likely grown.

Residents won’t have individual rooms in the former restaurant, but, unlike a shelter space, there will be a set group of 20 people living in the building.

O’Flanagan said her organization will work with local service providers to determine who will get a spot. Eligibility will likely be based on how long someone has been homeless and how vulnerable they are in their current situation, she said.

Mayor Andy Adams expressed his appreciation for the provincial investment.

“Establishing bridge housing in this location, run by an organization with proven experience in our community, will support people who have limited or no alternatives for housing,” he said in a statement.

The province is also working towards creating almost 120 affordable homes in Campbell River, including 41 in the recently purchased Heritage Inn for people displaced in an apartment fire, 49 for women and children leaving violent homes and 27 for people with low to moderate incomes.

The province has rented rooms and spent millions of dollars buying hotels and motels, including three in Victoria, to house people during the COVID-19 pandemic.

regan-elliott@timescolonist.com

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