The Village

IT TAKES A VILLAGE
Housing the Unsheltered Population in the Cowichan Valley

NEW and UPDATES

January 27, 2022:  There seems to be confusion as to the number of sleeping units opening for the Village project.  34 people will be given temporary accommodation at the Trunk Rd site. During the Temporary Use Permit deliberations, City of Duncan Council asked that we reduce the number of sleeping units to 34.  The initial application to the City of Duncan was for 40 units.  The 6 additional units will be stored until we find a community partner willing to utilize them elsewhere in the Cowichan Valley.

 

January 26, 2022:  The project has been delayed by four weeks and we are now looking at opening the 34 sleeping units on February 14th.

 

Our agreements with the landowner and with the City of Duncan were signed and issued on January 6 and we commenced site work on January 10th.

 

The sleeping unit components were manufactured across the ocean and were stuck at the Port of Vancouver for 4 weeks.  These port delays were largely due to the transportation disruptions and the backlog caused from the mid-November floods. Snowfall events and labour shortages due to Covid likely caused additional delays.  We are pleased that the units have made it to the Island are now being assembled at the Nexus Modular facility in Cobble Hill.

 

Thank you for your patience.

Please email engage@cowichanhousing.com if you require further information.

THE VILLAGE

The Cowichan Housing Association (CHA), representing the Cowichan Covid-19 Task Force for Vulnerable Population, have submitted a Temporary Use Permit application to the City of Duncan to provide 24-hour accomodation and support services for up to 40 individuals experiencing homelessness from January 15, 2022 to September 30, 2022.  The application proposes to site 34 temporary modular shelter cabins or “sleeping units,” 3 modular shower/washroom units, and one modular staff unit at 610 Trunk Road, Duncan, BC.  Site preparation will commence on December 15, 2021, subject to approval by City Council at a Special Council Meeting on December 13 at 6:00 pm..

 

Please email engage@cowichanhousing.com with questions, concerns, or comments related to the Village project.

PROJECT DESCRIPTION

Project Description

It Takes a Village project proposes to provide a transitional housing solution to improve the regional capacity to serve the unsheltered population currently residing in the region from January 15, 2021 to September 15, 2022.  In keeping with the successful model at St Julien St. and the Mound site,  additional temporary emergency sleeping cabins would be placed on the proposed site. We proposes to add 40 units of temporary accommodation (sleeping cabins), additional staff and associated incremental services.  We propose to develop and implement peer-based programs to address community concerns related to public health and safety arising from the presence of unhoused individuals informally residing in the central business district and residential neighbourhoods of the CVRD.

Project Overview

The Village project includes:

  • Temporary emergency shelter for up to 40 individuals
  • 3 fully fenced and enclosed clusters of 12-15 individuals for privacy and safety
  • 40 new modular 8’x14’ sleeping cabins (original sleeping cabins 8’x8’)
  • 1 staff/security unit 20’x20’
  • 3 shower and bathroom units 8’x20’
  • On-site security 8pm to 8am
  • Support services for 40 weeks:
    • 7 days/week outreach and support staff
    • Sanitation, garbage and neighbourhood clean team
    • Overnight security
    • 3 meals/day
    • Peer outreach, coordination, and incident response
  • Neighbourhood Support
    • Urban Street Cleanup Program and quick response team
    • Community Advisory Committee
    • Good Neighbour Agreements with program participants
    • 24/7 Open Communication Line for feedback and concerns
HOUSING, SUPPORT SERVICES, & AMENITIES

Housing, Support Services, and Amenities

The purpose of the project is to provide temporary housing in the form of 40 sleeping units (cabins) with individualized support services for unsheltered people in the Cowichan Valley through which their underlying health and social needs can be addressed. Project activities are part of a comprehensive, multi-faceted, and holistic response to homelessness and related issues across the region. In this way, the project is an essential part of the continuum of services for unsheltered people in the Cowichan Valley and represents an important first step in helping people off the streets permanently.

 

People supported through the project will have access to multiple on-site services including but not limited to food security programs, case planning, health and safety programming, and community referrals. Site amenities will include c-can washrooms/shower units donated for use by BC Housing, an outdoor eating area in each pod, and a secure area for the distribution of medication and for people to meet with outside support services.  A 20’ x 20’ modular staff unit with a washroom is part of the site plan.

 

The project is based on an established model of housing already in use in the City of Duncan and on Cowichan Tribes land that has been successful in getting people off the street and reducing the number of interactions between the business community and unsheltered people. The design of the temporary accommodation site minimizes the need for unsheltered individuals to travel through the community to meet their needs, allowing them to shelter in place and reduce the risk of Covid-19 transmission.

 

Operations will commence January 2022 and conclude in September 2022. Lookout Housing and Health Society will deliver the support services and operations functions.

PROJECT FUNDING, DELIVERY, & PARTNERSHIPS

Additional funding for Covid relief was allocated under the Government of Canada and Government of British Columbia Safe Restart program under the Strengthening Communities’ Services grant.  The aim of this program is to support unsheltered homeless populations and address related community impacts for one year.  The Cowichan Covid-19 Task Force’s application, submitted by the Municipality of North Cowichan on behalf of the region, was successful.

 

The proposed activities will be overseen by CHA, in partnership with the the City of Duncan, Municipality of North Cowichan, and landowners BC Housing.  CHA intend to build on the established partnerships that support the current temporary accommodation project. These partnerships include Our Cowichan Communities Health Network, the United Way Mid Vancouver Island, Island Health: Mental Health and Substance Use and Public Health departments, and the Ministry of Social Development and Poverty Reduction.

 

A range of community partners will be involved in delivering the activities including Lookout Housing and Health Society who will deliver the support services and operations functions. Other project partners may include a number of local non-profit societies including the local Community Action Team who provide harm reduction and peer-based programs to the residents.

COMMITMENT TO THE COMMUNITY

As an integral part of the neighborhood Lookout is committed to:

  • Cleaning and providing regular maintenance of the grounds.
  • Being responsive to community needs and concerns
  • Operating a Community Advisory Committee including local business, neighbors, BC Housing, Island Health, City of Duncan, and local RCMP.
  • Working with residents to understand and sign Good Neighbour Agreements

 

Lookout always works with the broad community to constantly improve the capacity for inclusion. This often includes hosting regular or on-demand community meetings.

 

The following measures are part of the project to ensure its success and to provide a safe and clean neighbourhood for everybody:

 

Urban Street Cleanup
The project includes a part time staff position to head an Urban Clean Program with program participant volunteers.   This team will actively sweep the neighbourhood for garbage and assess any additional concerns regarding neighbourhood cleaning and light maintenance.  This team will monitor the calls from neighbours and will ensure timely response with quick action and follow-up.

 

Community Advisory Committee
A Community Advisory Committee is an important function to provide a forum for feedback and dialogue between the neighbours, community and operators to help steer the project.  The committee membership is typically made up of local businesses, neighbouring residents, and representatives from Island Health, the City of Duncan, and local RCMP among others.  A monthly meeting gives opportunity for all committee members to provide feedback on what is happening around the project on an ongoing basis.  These neighbourhood and community-level perspectives are highly beneficial for project operators to understand and address concerns as they occur.  Common outcomes of the feedback provided by Community Advisory Committees are noticeable differences in street behavior, increased trust and collaboration between all parties, transparency and accountability for project partners.

 

Good Neighbour Agreements
Good Neighbour Agreements address the expectations of behavior for all residents as to how they conduct themselves in the neighbourhood.  Staff work with program participants around issues and concerns that emerge from community feedback. This approach helps build accountability, respect, and connection in the surrounding community.  Regular community meetings are held by staff with program participants and are typically aligned with the Community Advisory Committee meeting dates for effective and expedient communication to address committee suggestions.

 

SECURITY PLAN

A minimum of one security guard will be on site for at least 8 hours overnight when the site is not staffed, 7 days a week. Blackbird Security is CHA’s contactor for the current COVID emergency sites and is well versed in managing security with this population and the related challenges. Blackbird Security will be engaged to do the security at this site.

 

Additional measures taken to improve security include:

  • Installation of perimeter fencing around the whole of the property
  • The installation of lighting in all areas where people will be on site
  • Removing bushes/shrubs that could be used as hiding places and retain any trees that provide a natural barrier
  • No visitors outside of support, other related services, will be onsite at any time.
  • Use of personal protective equipment including but not limited to personal alarms, cell/portable phones and walkie talkies.
  • Site leadership is available on-call 24/7.
  • Onsite overdose prevention space.

 

The site plan consists of three fenced pods each containing 13-14 sleeping units, one washroom unit per pod for a total of 3, and a common eating area under canopies per unit, and a central staff unit. The siting of all buildings is done in such a way that staff have good visibility from their central location.  Additional oversight will be provided through outside community service organizations engaging with the people in the sleeping cabins, including Island Health Mental Health and Substance Use Services teams, Peers in Community program, outreach workers, and clean-up teams etc.

STAFFING PLAN

The sleeping unit sites will be staffed 24 hours a day, 7 days a week to support residents and respond to concerns should they occur. Support services will be provided on site and links will be made to off-site services as appropriate. Services & supports will include the following elements: 

  • Shared space to promote community
  • Daily meals
  • Laundry facilities & washrooms
  • Trauma-informed support and services
  • Lookout staff are experienced with sourcing and directing residents to many health, financial and community supports
  • Lookout will actively facilitate opportunities for residents to move on to housing
  • Lookout offers peer and low-barrier training, skill-building and employment opportunities for residents

 

Site staffing will include a combination of onsite Resource Workers and security, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, as well as a Site Coordinator and Program Manager.

 

Safety and Security 

 

Lookout works to create an environment where residents, staff and the community feel secure and safe.  Lookout management initiatives include:

  • 24/7 staffing to provide a site that is managed at all times to assure a timely response to any safety or security issue. Staff are connected to a myriad of community resources and are trained to pro-actively respond to community safety concerns and emergencies.
  • 24/7 on-call management can quickly address any safety concerns.

 

As per the project budget, Lookout will be providing for the anticipated life of the project:

  • Project Management 1* 37.5 hrs/wk * 52 wks
  • Project Coordination 1*37.5 hrs/wk * 40 wks
  • Resource Workers – Approx. 7-9
  • Site security covering 2*12 hr shifts/daily * 40 wks
  • Clean Team 2 * 35/hr/week
  • Garbage Removal 1 * 40/hr/week
  • Cultural and Anti Stigma training for security, clean team and staff
PEERS IN COMMUNITY - COWICHAN AMBASSADOR PROGRAM

The peer to peer/ peer to community program will provide 3 hours of service 4 days per week to address the impact of substance use and homelessness in a designated area in Duncan. 2 peers will be on shift and will undertake the following duties:

 

  • Peer to peer outreach providing support and information as required
  • Distributing harm reduction supplies
  • Collecting harm reduction waste directly from peers they contact to avoid them being discarded
  • Collecting discarded needles and harm reduction supplies from in and around business, streets and parks
  • Collecting garbage should it be in their designated area
  • Engaging with business to address hot spot areas and reporting back to CAT to find collective solutions to mitigate challenges
  • Engaging with First Responders/RCMP/security should there be an incident that they come across
PUBLIC ENGAGEMENT

CHA and project partners are committed to engage with neighbours of the proposed site to hear concerns, provide information, and incorporate input where feasible into the site design and operations plan. Cowichan Housing Association will host two digital townhalls to present the project and to provide an opportunity for attendees to ask questions to partnership representatives from Lookout Housing and Health Society, Cowichan Housing Association, Nexus Modular, and the City of Duncan.

 

Letters describing the project will be hand delivered to all residents and businesses within a 100m radius of the property.  Each letter will describe the project and provide dates to two townhall meetings where residents and businesses will have a chance to have questions addressed at that time.  Attached to each letter will be an event flyer/invitation for the two digital townhall meetings.

 

The Village at 610 Trunk Road
Neighbourhood Conversation and Information Session

 

  • Monday, November 29 from 7:00 pm – 8:00 pm, or
  • Tuesday, November 30 from 1:00 pm – 2:00 pm

 

Please email CHA for the Zoom link at engage@cowichanhousing.com

 

The same information will be presented at each session.

 

In addition to the townhall, engage@cowichanhousing.com is an open and active line of communication for any members of the community who would like to ask questions or get more information on the project.

 

A dedicated web page – http://cowichanhousing.com/village/
is active to provide information concerning the temporary use application and the overall project. In addition, the office line at Cowichan Housing Association is always available for calls or messages.  Any member of the public can call 250 597 1938.  A dedicated Lookout line will be set up closer to the date of operations.

 

Please don’t hesitate to reach out to us. We are happy to answer your questions or have a discussion with you about this project or about any issues related to housing. We strive to provide housing for all people of the Cowichan Valley.

HOMELESSNESS IN COWICHAN

The Cowichan Valley, with a population of 90,380, has an unsheltered homeless population exceeding 200 individuals. The most recent Point in Time (PIT) count indicated that there were 129 people who were unhoused on March 11, 2020.

 

Based on the number of applications for the new supportive housing under construction, our estimate is that the population has doubled. For the 99 units of new supportive housing to be built by the summer of 2022, there are well over 270 applications. This housing is designed for people with multiple barriers to accessing housing, so the number of applications is fairly reflective of the homeless population that is connected with services in some way.

 

The recently completed Housing Needs Assessment report for the CVRD identified that there is a need for more non-market housing including supportive and emergency housing options and that there is an acute shortage of rental housing available in the community.

 

CHA currently provides 71 units of temporary housing for homelesss individuals funded by BC Housing as part of our community’s response to the Covid-19 pandemic and its impact on the unsheltered population.  Because the project has been housing approximately 71 homeless individuals for the last year we are well aware that a significant number in our community remain unhoused.

 

The Cowichan Region currently receives funding from the federal government’s Reaching Home initiative to fund programs and services that reduce homelessness in the region.

 

CLICK HERE for the 2020 Point in Time Homeless Count for Duncan/Cowichan Valley

SITE PLAN
MODULAR & PORTABLE BUILDING UNITS

Sleeping Units

The 14′ x 8′ new sleeping units (cabins) have a structural steel framework with an insulated panel wall system.  It is an industrial-grade building structure similar to what is used in the oil and gas sector for camp housing.

 

The sleeping units are being built with the following specifications:

  • Size is 8’ x 15’ OUTSIDE SIZE includes roof overhang on the front
  • Sleeping platforms
  •  Insulated Panel Finished interior/exterior siding/sheeting
  • Fully insulated walls and ceilings
  • ⅝” Concrete board underside of floorplate with finished sheet vinyl on top side of floors
  • Waterproofed roof assembly
  • Exterior 32” wide steel Door with basic locking hardware
  • Two sliding 3024 vinyl windows
  • Basic wiring as follows: two wall outlets, one switched LED light inside, one small wall heater (surface mounted)
  • Includes one passive wall vent

 

Theses units are being manufactured by Nexus Modular Solutions, a local Cowichan Valley company and builders of the tiny orange units currently at St. Julien and the Mound site.  Nexus Global Building Systems Inc. is a CSA certified modular building manufacturer located in the Cowichan Valley. They have offices in Duncan, and an 8000 square-foot production facility in Chemainus. They are in late-stage construction of a new 15,000 square foot facility in Cobble Hill that will triple their production capacity by the end of 2021.

Washing Units

There will be 3 portable washing units on site.  Each unit will service an enclosed pod of 13 or 14 sleeping units. These facilities contain 3 separate rooms accessed by exterior doors (1 toilet + and 2 toilet/shower rooms).  Connections for sewer and water will be made to existing connections currently servicing the house on site.

 

Notes:
2 of these washing units are donated by BC Housing.

CONTACT

Cowichan Housing Association;   Ph: 250 597 1938

 

Shelley Cook, Executive Director, Cowichan Housing Association
shelley.cook@cowichanhousing.com

 

Lee F. King, Director of Operations Vancouver Island, Lookout Housing and Health Society
Lee.King@lookoutsociety.ca

 

Andrew Wilson, Project Planner, Cowichan Housing Association
andrew.wilson@cowichanhousing.com

 

General Questions and Project Proposal Information
engage@cowichanhousing.com

 

Project information can be found at www.cowichanhousing.com/village

APPENDIX A: MAPS AND SITE PLAN

CLICK HERE for Appendix A: Maps and Site Plan

Appendix B: About Lookout

CLICK HERE for Appendix B: About Lookout

Appendix C: Example Good Neighbour Agreement

CLICK HERE for Appendix C: Example Good Neighbour Agreement

Appendix E: Impact Statements Cowichan COVID Temporary Shelter Initiative

CLICK HERE for Appendix E: Impact Statements Cowichan COVID Temporary Shelter Initiative

Appendix F: Engagement Materials

CLICK HERE for Appendix F: Engagement Materials

Appendix G: Engagement Summary Report

CLICK HERE for Appendix G: Engagement Summary Report

Appendix H: Tree Removal Plan

CLICK HERE for Appendix H: Tree Removal Plan

CLICK HERE for Arborist Report

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

Who will be staying at the site?

There will be a range of people living on site with different housing needs struggling with issues of homelessness.

What are the cabins like?

The 14′ x 8′ sleeping units (cabins) have a structural steel framework with an insulated panel wall system.  It is an industrial-grade building structure similar to what is used in the oil and gas sector for camp housing.

 

The sleeping units are being built with the following specifications:

  • Size is 8’ x 15’ OUTSIDE SIZE includes roof overhang on the front
  • Sleeping platform
  • Insulated Panel Finished interior/exterior siding/sheeting
  • Fully insulated walls and ceilings
  • ⅝” Concrete board underside of floorplate with finished sheet vinyl on top side of floors
  • Waterproofed roof assembly
  • Exterior 32” wide steel Door with basic locking hardware
  • Two sliding vinyl windows
  • Basic wiring as follows: two wall outlets, one switched LED light inside, one small wall heater (surface mounted)
  • Includes one passive wall vent

 

A total of 3 bathroom/shower units will service 12-14 units.  Each washing unit contains 3 toilets and 2 showers.

 

Theses units are being manufactured by Nexus Modular Solutions, a local Cowichan Valley company and builders of the tiny orange units currently at St. Julien and the Mound site.  Nexus Global Building Systems Inc. is a CSA certified modular building manufacturer located in the Cowichan Valley.

Who is paying for this project?

All funding for this project is provided by a the Government of Canada and Government of British Columbia Safe Restart grant under the Strengthening Communities’ Services program.  The aim of this program is to support unsheltered homeless populations and address related community impacts for one year.  The Cowichan Covid-19 Task Force’s application, submitted by the Municipality of North Cowichan on behalf of the region, was successful.

Are more homeless people going to come to Duncan because of this project?

This funding went to many regions across British Columbia to bolster their emergency housing supports.  All towns and cities across the province are experiencing the same issues to varying degrees of scale.

 

There is a large myth that the homeless population in Cowichan is from out-of-towners and that this population grows when more housing and supports are funded. According to the 2020 PIT count, 88% of respondents said they had resided in Cowichan for over a year; 47% said they had lived in Cowichan for 10 years or more.  Roughly 85% of the 70 people being supported in the current sleeping cabin sites and at the Ramada are Cowichan locals.

Will this project attract more people experiencing homelessness to the neighbourhood?

While homelessness projects can result in more people being drawn into the area, particularly those looking to exploit vulnerable people living on site, the staff and security (on site 24/7) will discourage any loitering in the area. In addition, we will be working with important community partners, like the RCMP, to disperse any loiterers, if needed. Currently there is a high level of drug and other related criminal activity happening on the site; this will not be happening once the Village project commences.

Supportive housing and shelters in the Greater Duncan area are spread out across the city and will be even more dispersed with the addition of the supportive housing projects on Paddle Rd. in North Cowichan and White Rd. in Duncan.

(supportive housing map coming soon)

What will happen to the trees on the property?

The arborist assessment surveyed and inspected all trees on site. Most of the trees are mature and in poor to average condition.  The healthiest trees are a cluster of large Western Red Cedar in the middle of the property, which will remain.

 

The Village project site plan includes a 15 foot vegetation buffer along the perimeter of the property.  The plan proposes the removal of 8 of the 55 trees on site: 2 of these trees need to be removed for rot and safety concerns according to the arborist report.  A significant amount of limbing will occur as all the trees on site have not been cared for in many years.

 

Much of the shrubbery and brush will be removed to provide clear sight lines for support staff.

 

“This lot has 55 trees on it; most are on the west side. Many trees on this site will need removal due to poor health, their size, major defects or proximity to infrastructure on adjacent sites.”  – Arborist Tree Survey and Assessment 

What happens to the people after the project ends on September 15?

While this funding is dedicated to emergency housing for one year, we are working with all community partners to find permanent housing options for all people living at the Village. This transitional model gives participants several months of safe and secure housing and support services that will help provide stability which will increase the chances of success in their next stage of housing.

What is the future use for the site?

BC Housing are collaborating with partners on the long-term vision for site and look forward to sharing details of the development proposal in due time.

I have some serious concerns about this project. Who can I call?

Staff at Cowichan Housing Association are available to hear your concerns and answer any further questions you may have.  We would like to know these concerns so we can adjust our planning to mitigate impacts on the neighbourhood and make this a successful project for everyone.  Contact us here:

 

Cowichan Housing Association;   Ph: 250 597 1938

 

Shelley Cook, Executive Director, Cowichan Housing Association
shelley.cook@cowichanhousing.com

 

Lee F. King, Director of Operations Vancouver Island, Lookout Housing and Health Society
Lee.King@lookoutsociety.ca

 

Andrew Wilson, Project Planner, Cowichan Housing Association
andrew.wilson@cowichanhousing.com

 

General Questions and Project Proposal Information
engage@cowichanhousing.com

 

Project information can be found at www.cowichanhousing.com/village

When was the City of Duncan Council Meeting?

City of Duncan Council considered this Temporary Use Permit application at the electronic Special Council Meeting on Monday, December 13, 2021, at 6:00 p.m and voted 5-1 in favour of the application.

The Special Council Meeting can be viewed here:

Council Agenda Package including the full TUP application can be found here:
https://duncan.civicweb.net/Portal/MeetingInformation.aspx?Org=Cal&Id=1570

Click images below for printable versions:

Site Plan

Air Photo

Location Map