Tents on Wesley Street in Nanaimo. (News Bulletin file photo)

Province wants to work with Nanaimo on 60-bed ‘navigation centre’ shelter

City council expressed interest in the idea in late August

Just two weeks after the city expressed interest in the idea, the province has announced it wants to bring a 60-bed supportive shelter to Nanaimo.

The B.C. government announced Tuesday that it is working, through B.C. Housing, with the City of Nanaimo to open a navigation centre for people experiencing homelessness.

The province recently announced it would be opening one such shelter in Vancouver and noted at the time that it wanted to site another on the Island. City council, at a meeting Aug. 31, voted 7-2 to write to the province to express interest in being selected for a navigation centre.

A location for the centre is being identified, noted a press release from the B.C. Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing, and a non-profit partner is expected to be selected this fall. The centre is slated to be operating by spring 2021.

“Having a navigation centre with the necessary wraparound services for people who require higher levels of supports than provided in traditional shelters, in particular, mental health and substance use supports, is much needed in Nanaimo,” said Nanaimo Mayor Leonard Krog in the release.

The centre will provide 24/7 shelter for people experiencing homelessness, with access by referral only. The province said there will be integrated clinical health supports and culturally appropriate services for indigenous people, and B.C. Housing and the city are working with Island Health to determine the support services that will be offered.

Sheila Malcolmson, Nanaimo MA, said in the release that wraparound supports will include housing and individualized attention and care planning that can help people stabilize their lives.

“We know that our community is healthier and safer when our neighbours without homes can move inside and have access to the services they need,” said Malcolmson.

READ ALSO: Count in Nanaimo indicates 25 per cent increase in homelessness

Shane Simpson, B.C. minister of social development and poverty reduction, said in the release that navigation centres provide opportunities for people to receive individualized care and compassion and are meant to complement the province’s “housing-first approach” to homelessessness and poverty.

Doug Routley, Nanaimo-North Cowichan MLA, said a navigation centre will help bring people in off the streets and connect them with permanent housing.



editor@nanaimobulletin.com

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