Interior Health building near hospital eyed for shelter

Stakeholders are looking at the feasibility of using the former nurses' residence

  • Nov. 20, 2019 12:00 a.m.

Community stakeholders will go back to Interior Health to explore the feasibility of using the former nurses’ residence (and more recently the old women’s transition house) near the Boundary hospital as an emergency winter shelter. The group had previously sent a letter to Interior Health to inquire about the site in September, but heard no official response. Local representatives for the organization, though, have indicated their opposition to the idea.

The Social Services Advisory Group (SSAG) learned last Thursday that the possibility of hosting such a shelter at the River Valley Community Church, which had been put forward by pastor Gabe Warriner the week previous, had fallen through, based on concerns of security, safety and overlapping uses of the building.

Though the group had previously requested that the City be the entity to approach Interior Health on the real estate inquiry, council refused to take on that role at last week’s meeting. Couns. Rod Zielinski and Neil Krog argued that it was the advisory group’s responsibility to wait to approach the city with a concrete plan before involving the municipality.

BC Housing, the Crown corporation that would fund an emergency shelter, has indicated that three things need to be in place before money changes hands: a shelter location, an operator and the approval of council.

At Thursday’s advisory group meeting, though, Coun. Christine Thompson told the group that, “I can’t promise that there would be the support of council,” for the nurses’ residence location. Thompson also ruled out Whispers of Hope Benevolence Association as an operator for a city-endorsed shelter, saying that “with Whispers of Hope, you will not get the support of council.”

Whispers of Hope was tasked with operating the warming centre at 7500 Donaldson Dr. last winter and ran it until it closed in August.

Grand Forks Gazette

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