Sidney opens showers for homeless in Iroquois Park

The Town of Sidney opened showers for homeless people in Iroquois Park on Thursday, part of the community’s efforts to combat COVID-19.

“Hygiene and washing are extremely important given COVID,” said Randy Humble, the town’s chief administrative officer and director of the Emergency Operations Centre for Sidney and North Saanich.

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“We are just trying to stop its spread,” said Humble.

Businesses have chipped in. Tyneham Luxury Products is donating toiletries, soap, shampoo, toothbrushes and toothpaste and the Best Western Plus Emerald Isle Hotel has donated towels.

The shower facility will be open Monday to Friday from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.

Along with the shower facility, the town’s three public washrooms, on Fourth Street, and in Tulista and Iroquois parks, will remain open. These facilities will be cleaned and sanitized several times daily.

Humble said Sidney has a relatively small homeless population, estimated at 15 to 20 people.

But with the closure of facilities, especially the Panorama Recreation Centre, homeless people are finding it find it difficult to maintain basic cleanliness.

Also, the closure of the public library deprives people without homes of a place to gather and shelter during the day.

The shower facility’s hours of operations will coincide with hours of the adjacent Saanich Peninsula Lions Food Bank.

The food bank offers a food hamper program on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays from 9 a.m. to noon and it is currently open for extra food pickups on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 9 a.m. to noon.

There is an urgent need of donations at the food bank and demand is growing. Donations can be made online at splfoodbank.com/donate or by phone 250-655-0679.

Meanwhile, the federal government has informed the Capital Regional District it will be getting $1.3 million to assist the region’s COVID-19 response among the homeless.

The money has been directed from the federal government’s Reaching Home program. CRD officials are working with the regional emergency operations centre, local governments and community partners to develop a strategy for distributing the money.

The federal contribution received an expression of appreciation by Victoria Mayor Lisa Helps on Tuesday during her daily COVID-19 update live webcast.

“That $1.3 million will really help people who are out on the streets right now by providing shelter, providing food and providing basic health support,” she said.

rwatts@timescolonist.com

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