The City of Nanaimo’s Community Services Building at 285 Prideaux St. will house 35 shelter beds for the duration of the COVID-19 pandemic in a partnership between the city, province and B.C. Housing. (City of Nanaimo photo)

City of Nanaimo, province partner to add 35 shelter spaces during COVID-19 pandemic

Shelter beds slated to open at 285 Prideaux St. on June 1

The city and province are working together to provide 35 additional shelter beds in Nanaimo to help people experiencing homelessness during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The City of Nanaimo announced Thursday that it has come to agreement with the provincial government and B.C. Housing to use a portion of the Community Services Building at 285 Prideaux St. to accommodate an emergency response centre.

The shelter is slated to open June 1 and will remain open “for the duration of the COVID-19 pandemic,” noted a city press release.

The 7-10 Club will remain operating at the location, and Options for Sexual Health will also remain on site providing essential services only under reduced hours.

In late March, the city complied with a request from the province to provide a list of city-owned facilities that could be suitable for a shelter, if needed.

The city press release says an “experienced non-profit operator” is set to oversee the Prideaux Street shelter 24 hours a day, adding that additional details will be provided when the centre becomes operational.

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Nanaimo Mayor Leonard Krog said in the release that B.C. Housing and Island Health have been “great partners” to the city on health and housing issues.

“We continue to rely on them during this pandemic to address the immediate health emergency as well as the ongoing mental health and addictions issues that face our community,” he said.

Selina Robinson, minister of municipal affairs and housing, said in the release that the shelter spaces will help to mitigate the impacts of COVID-19 and support people in need.

“We will continue to work with the City of Nanaimo and community partners across the province to build off the work already underway … to ensure people and communities are supported during this crisis and beyond,” she said.

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