11:41 AM

Emergency response centre opening in Victoria

The Province is opening a 45-bed emergency response centre with wraparound supports and services at Save-On-Foods Memorial Centre, the first site in B.C. to feature pop-up pods that provide privacy for people staying there.

The new temporary accommodation site will house people living in encampments on the Pandora Avenue corridor and Topaz Park in Victoria.

“This is a challenging time for everyone, especially for people experiencing homelessness. In Victoria, we have seen encampments at Topaz Park and the Pandora corridor grow into unsafe, dense encampments that are compounding existing health, well-being and safety challenges,” said Shane Simpson, Minister of Social Development and Poverty Reduction. “The centre offers a temporary and secure place with wraparound support services to help people stay safe during this time.”

The temporary emergency response centre is scheduled to open in the coming days, once all staff are in place. GSL Group, the developer and operator of the facility, is extending the use of the arena to BC Housing to provide shelter to vulnerable people in the community during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“From the beginning of the crisis, we've said we could make our arenas throughout B.C. available for medical purposes, if needed," said Graham Lee, president and CEO of GSL Group. “We are pleased to support the Province's effort to provide an emergency response centre and the ongoing efforts from the Province and the City of Victoria to support those in need.”

BC Housing is partnering with PHS Community Services Society to operate the emergency response centre, which will receive people referred by Island Health and BC Housing. The centre will accommodate couples and groups of people who wish to stay together, where possible.

BC Housing is partnering with Staples Business Advantage to provide pop-up pods that are being rapidly installed in the arena to provide privacy. The advantage of this pop-up solution is the speed at which the pods can be assembled. The Province has plans to expand their use at other emergency response centres.

In addition to a space of their own, people will have access to services such as meals, washroom facilities, health-care services, addictions treatment and harm reduction, storage for personal belongings and other supports.

“We are grateful to GSL for working with BC Housing and the Province to make this facility available to help those in Victoria in need of temporary sheltering, meals or specialized health services," said Lisa Helps, mayor, City of Victoria. "Moving into the arena in the short term is a step closer for people to have safe, secure long-term housing.”

BC Housing has also partnered with the Aboriginal Coalition to End Homelessness to open 12 temporary shelter spaces at a different location to provide culturally supportive services to Indigenous peoples who are experiencing homelessness in the community.

From April 25 to May 4, 2020, 92 people from encampments on Pandora Avenue and in Topaz Park have moved into safe, temporary accommodations with wraparound supports to protect their health and safety in the overlapping COVID-19 and overdose crises.

Learn More:

For an overview of BC Housing’s work to monitor and respond to COVID-19, visit: https://www.bchousing.org/COVID-19

For more information and latest medical updates on COVID-19, follow the BCCDC on Twitter @CDCofBC or visit its website: http://www.bccdc.ca/

For more information on non-medical issues like travel recommendations and how to manage social isolation, visit: www.gov.bc.ca/COVID-19
Or call 1 888 COVID19 (1 888 268-4319) between 7:30 a.m. and 8 p.m. (Pacific time), seven days a week.

To see photos of the pop-up pods in Save-On-Foods Memorial Centre, visit: https://www.flickr.com/photos/bcgovphotos/49859489731/
And here: https://www.flickr.com/photos/bcgovphotos/49859799647/