Parksville modular housing project to help homeless planned

A three-storey modular housing project with in-house support is planned in Parksville to help vulnerable citizens.

The project, announced Friday, will see about 50 new units of housing built at 222 Corfield St. South. It will also include space that can be used as an emergency shelter during the winter.

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Doors are to open next year, B.C.’s Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing said in a statement.

This project is part of the province’s plan to promptly develop 2,000 modular housing units to help those who are homeless or at risk of becoming homeless. Another 2,500 units are planned.

Stable housing is considered a key factor in helping citizens at risk.

This project is a partnership between the province, the Regional District of Nanaimo, the City of Parksville and Town of Qualicum Beach.

B.C. is contributing $6.9 million and the regional district is putting in $660,000.

The Island Crisis Care Society will staff the project full time, offering residents access to education, employment and health care services.

“Lives will be changed because of this initiative,” said Violet Hayes, executive director of the society.

Parksville Mayor Mark Lefebvre said the community needs supportive housing.

In a survey of homeless people conducted by the Oceanside Task Force on Homelessness, 73 per cent of people interviewed said affordable housing was their top need.

Selina Robinson, minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing, said today’s housing crisis was “many years in the making.”

The combination of housing and winter shelter will help give vulnerable people in Parksville urgently needed supports, she said.

An open house on March 20 will allow area residents to comment.

Friday’s announcement came just days after Nanaimo lost out on $7.2 million in funding support for a similar development.

The City of Nanaimo had identified a city-owned site for a partnership with the province. But neighbours spoke out against the idea, prompting council to rule out that location.

Nanaimo’s request for an extension to give it time to find another location was turned down this week. The city was encouraged by the province to apply again when it had a suitable site lined up.

cjwilson@timescolonist.com

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