North Cowichan to set up tenting sites for the homeless

Short-term tenting sites with a “family cluster” of campers are going to be set up for homeless people in North Cowichan in an effort to help prevent the spread of COVID-19.

Several potential locations have been identified, including the south parking lot at the Fuller Lake Arena in Chemainus, said a statement from North Cowichan.

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“The site in the arena parking lot is out of the way and provides both privacy and security to those who reside there,” said North Cowichan Mayor Al Siebring.

“Ideally, most people in Chemainus won’t even notice it.”

A final decision whether to use the arena will come in a few days.

The project is being led by the regional COVID-19 Task Force for Vulnerable Populations, which received $220,000 in funding from the Rapid Relief Fund and $172,000 from B.C. Housing.

Six to eight sites will be established under the plan, which was approved by B.C. Housing.

Up to 12 people will be allowed to stay in each site for up to 30 days during the first phase of the program, which was approved by B.C. Housing, said the North Cowichan statement.

Each site will be closely managed and have security patrols, garbage removal, daily food, outreach contact, hygiene facilities and other supports.

Anyone wanting to move in will be tested for the virus. If they test positive, Island Health will arrange for them to move into a hotel where they can be isolated.

Other communities have been trying to come to grips with how to deal with the large number of homeless people, many with pre-existing health conditions.

In Victoria, people are being moved into hotels or Save-on-Foods Memorial Centre, where beds and dividers have been erected.

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