People who were at Discontent City have started moving into their new homes on Labieux Road.
The first of two temporary supportive housing projects began accommodating tenants Friday, with about 15 people slated to move in that day and more moving in all weekend. The Terminal Avenue site is eyeing Monday for the first move-ins.
Dominic Flanagan, executive director of B.C. Housing, said he hopes people are all moved in by the middle of next week.
“It’s been a really close call in terms of timelines and work is still ongoing at both sites, but we remain optimistic that due to … the strong partnerships and collaborative effort, the camp will be closed down by the end of next week and more important than that, that people will be brought inside to housing,” Flanagan said.
He said he was at Discontent City on Friday and reported there was “a real buzz and vitality” there, with people excited about moving into warm and dry housing.
Coun. Ian Thorpe suggested people moving into temporary supportive housing is “a very big, concrete step” in solving Nanaimo’s homelessness crisis.
“We want to end tent city. We want it closed. We want the people inside of tent city in safe accommodations, which is what they need and what they deserve,” Thorpe said. “And our residents also need to feel safe and believe me, there will be processes in place to make sure that that is happening.”
Pacifica Housing is operating the Labieux site and Angela McNulty-Buell, director of support services for Pacifica, said while a bed and a room may not sound like a lot, to residents, it feels like they’re being given the world.
“It’s a really exciting day to have individuals that have been sleeping rough – for seven months we know at Discontent, but a lot longer likely – to be moving into their own, independent space where they know they’re going to get the supports they need, they’re going to be warm and safe and be fed,” she said.
Violet Hayes, executive director of Island Crisis Care Society, operator of the Terminal Avenue site, said she hopes observing the Labieux site’s experiences will help with the Terminal site launch.
“We are a little bit behind [where] we hoped to be, but there’s definitely a lot of progress being made,” she said.