08:33 AM

Thirty new tiny shelters coming to Port Alberni

PORT ALBERNI - Construction has started on Port Alberni's first tiny-shelter village, which will provide 30 homes for people experiencing homelessness in the community.

"We recognize the urgent need for safe and secure homes for vulnerable people in Port Alberni, especially for Indigenous people, who are heavily overrepresented among British Columbians experiencing homelessness," said Josie Osborne, MLA for Mid Island-Pacific Rim. "The creation of this new tiny-shelter village will help move people off the street or from unsafe living conditions into safe homes with supports so they can better begin to stabilize their lives. I thank the Port Alberni community, and each and every one of our partners for putting this project together so quickly. This initiative simply could not have been done without them."

Located at 3665, 3675 and 3689 4th Ave., the Walyaqil Tiny Shelter Village will have 30 temporary modular housing pods, amenity space, washrooms, an office, bicycle parking and two outdoor gathering areas.

The Port Alberni Friendship Centre (PAFC) will operate the village and will have staff on site 24 hours a day, seven days a week to provide support services, including health and wellness supports, life-skills training and culturally appropriate services for Indigenous Peoples. Residents will also be provided as many as three meals a day.

"It is with great anticipation and a growing excitement that the Friendship Centre is moving forward with Walyaqil, our tiny shelter village," said Cyndi Stevens, executive director, PAFC. "The community is embracing Walyaqil with open arms and we are eternally grateful to be one step closer to providing a safe place for those most in need that they can call home."

The Province, through BC Housing, is providing approximately $726,000 for the project, including $75,000 in start-up costs, and will also provide approximately $850,000 in annual operating funding.

"We're working to ensure people everywhere in the province have housing options no matter where they live," said Ravi Kahlon, Minister of Housing. "This new village is another example of how our government is exploring new and creative ways to bring vulnerable people indoors, where they can access the supports they need to stabilize their lives. We will continue to work with partners in Port Alberni to ensure people have a good place to call home."

The City of Port Alberni provided the land for the project, as well as ongoing municipal utility operating expenses and a $165,000 grant. The PAFC is contributing $226,000, while the Nuu- chah-nulth Employment and Training Program is supporting the setup of utilities at the site.

"We feel extremely fortunate to see this critical project that addresses substandard and unsafe housing in our community moving forward," said Sharie Minions, mayor, Port Alberni. “Though the city was pleased to be able to contribute to this project through the provision of city- owned land and capital funding, we recognize that we would not have been successful without the partners who are on the Supportive Housing Task Force and have championed this project, and BC Housing who provided operating funding. I want to thank each of these groups for their dedication to providing safe, accessible and culturally appropriate housing in our community.”

Construction on the Walyaqil Tiny Shelter Village is expected to be completed in early 2023.

The project is part of B.C.'s 10-year, $7-billion housing plan. Since 2017, the Province has funded more than 36,000 affordable new homes that are complete or are underway, including more than 360 homes in Port Alberni.

Quick Facts:

  • The Walyaqil Tiny Shelter Village is part of a commitment between BC Housing, the City of Port Alberni and PAFC to develop more housing for vulnerable people in the community.
  • The commitment covers two other projects:
  • future development of a permanent supportive housing building; and
  • a women's second-stage transitional housing project, currently under construction.

Learn More:

A map showing the location of all announced provincially funded housing projects in B.C. is available online: https://www.bchousing.org/homes-for-BC

To learn about the steps the Province is taking to tackle the housing crisis and deliver affordable homes for British Columbians, visit: https://workingforyou.gov.bc.ca/