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[Burnside/Gorge] Streetlink Ellice Street shelter | 5-storeys | Built - completed in 2010


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#1 Rob Randall

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Posted 19 February 2008 - 12:31 AM

I attended the meeting at the old Burnside school tonight where the concept was presented to the community and the residents and business owners gave their opinions to the panel, which included Council members, consultants and Cool-Aid.

There are no architectural plans yet.

Most of the residents were vocal in their opposition to the plan saying Burnside Gorge already shoulders more than their fair share of services for disadvantaged people and that the shelter does not belong in their community.

Residents in revolt over homeless shelter proposal for Rock Bay

Overflow crowd voices opposition to building in Ellice Park
Judith Lavoie, Victoria Times Colonist
Published: Tuesday, February 19, 2008

The park, which would have to be taken out of the city's park inventory, is on the edge of an industrial area, but with businesses and family homes close by.

Centennial Day Care, one of the largest day care centres in Victoria with up to 50 spaces, would probably have to close if the shelter moves in, said spokeswoman Karin Macaulay.


"[Randall's] aesthetic poll was more accurate than his political acumen"

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#2 Nparker

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Posted 19 February 2008 - 07:14 AM

one word: NIMBY

#3 G-Man

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Posted 19 February 2008 - 07:56 AM

While I would not have been upset with a location closer to downtown, say in the Rock Bay area. I think that this proposal is well located and is necessary as the current location is causing damage to area that should by rights be up and coming.

#4 Ms. B. Havin

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Posted 19 February 2008 - 08:47 AM

...the current location is causing damage to area that should by rights be up and coming.


How can a location cause damage? Isn't it the people using the location who are causing damage?

And if those people are going to transfer en masse to a new location, won't they cause damage there? Design can't fix everything.

The daycare is in trouble because of this. There are so few daycares in Victoria, it's already hard enough for working parents to find appropriate care, why endanger their viability?

Many people here seemed to agree, with regard to the Independence Settlement Project, that housing a large group of "troubled" people together, vs. integrating them into "normal" projects, was asking for more trouble. So why is it ok to put them in a big shelter -- which isn't even stable housing, and therefore by definition potentially more destabilizing?

Paul Gerrard wondered why "a large portion of the $34 million committed to Victoria from B.C. Housing is being used to relocate the Streetlink shelter, which is about managing homelessness," according to the article. That's a fair question -- did anybody answer it?
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#5 G-Man

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Posted 19 February 2008 - 09:25 AM

The current location was not designed for the capacity it is being used for causing exstensive damage to the surrounding neighbourhood, especially Chinatown due to overflow of people. This shelter is not closing it is changing to a more appropriate use as supportive housing.

The new location is hardly in a residential area. My car dealership is in that area and so I walk around there a fair bit during the mornings and afternoons when my car is being worked on. This is an industrial area. There are lots of small industrial sites and the motel next to this location. The design of the new site is supposed to incorporate a staging area that will allow more people in off the street.

While I would also support a location in Rock Bay there are not too many sites that could be used and certainly none owned by the city like this one.

This will have to go somewhere or perhaps they should all be put on a barge so they can be shifted to different communities each night.

#6 amor de cosmos

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Posted 19 February 2008 - 09:51 AM

one word: NIMBY


roflmao that's the first thing I thought!

"We've got more than our share of (fill in the blank) in our neighbourhood. We have done our share of co-operating"

#7 Ms. B. Havin

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Posted 19 February 2008 - 10:08 AM

This will have to go somewhere...


But what is "this"? I first thought you wrote "they," to which I would agree, perhaps as follows: those who are addicted should go to detox and hospitals, those who are mentally ill should go to hospitals, those who are criminals (drug dealers) should go to jail, those who are poor should go to permanent housing, those who are hard-to-house should go to supportive housing, ...and so on.

Unlike Coreyburger (I believe) who dumped on Richard Leblanc's idea for the habilitative facility (farm) in Saanich, I think facilities like that farm, which focus on supportive programming and therapy, have a real place in terms of restoring people's health and dignity. Do shelters do that? If they did, why do so many homeless people rather sleep on the street than check into a shelter? It's not just because they can't bring drugs into the premises -- it's often b/c they consider the shelters unsafe. If the homeless themselves think the shelters are unsafe, it makes you wonder.

I'm just wondering, if we're interested in ending homelessness vs just managing it, whether it's such a great idea to throw good money after bad.
If the facility were a hospital or a supportive housing proposal or an affordable housing proposal with (what's that term?, aggressive community something?) a component that has real support for the chronically hard-to-house, I'd say, go for it.

A shelter just seems like a strange step if there's not much else in terms of mental hospital or detox facility etc. to go with it. Designing in a courtyard so that the people who use the shelter are less visible from the street doesn't address that issue.

Maybe I'm missing something, but what happened to more enlightened and aggressive approaches to homelessness? Building bigger shelters seems like a no-brainer solution, but is it?
When you buy a game, you buy the rules. Play happens in the space between the rules.

#8 Mike K.

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Posted 19 February 2008 - 10:39 AM

If you build it, they will come.

It won't be long before this shelter is at-capacity, and then what? Ms. B's, right, we're not really building these shelters to end homelessness. We're building them to manage homelessness and provide a false sense of accomplishment for bureaucrats who feel like they ought to do something -- even if that something doesn't address the real underlying issues.

But if we can't shed shelters just yet, how about some help from our largest municipality? In November of 2006 Saanich was offered funding by the province for a shelter after news reports surfaced of Saanich Police picking up homeless persons in Saanich and dropping them off in downtown Victoria. Eventually, one Saanich councillor said:

“I’m not sitting around anymore,” Gillespie said last night, rising to his feet in Saanich council chambers. “I’m going to stand up and make sure things happen in 2007.”

Ok, so that plan was apparently scratched. Once again homelessness is a Victoria problem.

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#9 jklymak

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Posted 19 February 2008 - 10:56 AM

^ Thats right, Saanich and Oak Bay are getting a free ride on this one.

However, really this sort of health problem should be a provincial responsibility. For them to dump this on municipalities is truly unfair.

#10 Nominalis

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Posted 19 February 2008 - 11:21 AM

I find it interesting that nobody's up in arms about a daycare being located in the most toxic industrial area in Victoria. I would think the families of the children being poisoned there would be glad to have the daycare forced to move to a healthier location.

BTW, said in jest.
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#11 Mike K.

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Posted 19 February 2008 - 11:40 AM

It's probably no worse of a location than the entire Selkirk development is in, in terms of industrial activity/pollution.

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#12 Coreyburger

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Posted 19 February 2008 - 12:01 PM

But what is "this"? I first thought you wrote "they," to which I would agree, perhaps as follows: those who are addicted should go to detox and hospitals, those who are mentally ill should go to hospitals, those who are criminals (drug dealers) should go to jail, those who are poor should go to permanent housing, those who are hard-to-house should go to supportive housing, ...and so on.

Unlike Coreyburger (I believe) who dumped on Richard Leblanc's idea for the habilitative facility (farm) in Saanich, I think facilities like that farm, which focus on supportive programming and therapy, have a real place in terms of restoring people's health and dignity. Do shelters do that? If they did, why do so many homeless people rather sleep on the street than check into a shelter? It's not just because they can't bring drugs into the premises -- it's often b/c they consider the shelters unsafe. If the homeless themselves think the shelters are unsafe, it makes you wonder.

Maybe I'm missing something, but what happened to more enlightened and aggressive approaches to homelessness? Building bigger shelters seems like a no-brainer solution, but is it?


The farm is a dumb idea. I said it then and I will say it again. As for the new shlter, it will havec 24 hr staff. You will note that the daycare owner doesn't seem too concenred, as the druggies are already there.

As for managing it, we havce a huge housing problem in Victoria. Absolutely anything is goingto help.
/corey

#13 Rob Randall

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Posted 19 February 2008 - 12:38 PM

The BG residents insisted on knowing what other sites were considered before choosing Ellice Park (which apparently is officially a "playlot", not a park).

The consultant said the Steels site on Discovery and the BC Hydro lands on Rock Bay were both considered and rejected as unsuitable. Also, a site on lower Herald near Store was considered but rejected as being far too small.

When asked why there was no prior consultation, the reply was that no matter how early the consultation began, the hostility and anger on display in the gym that night showed no amount of prior consultation would have smoothed things over.

Someone brought up a good point: yes, Streetlink presently lacks an interior courtyard, meaning street people spill out onto the sidewalk and area around Store Street. Yet even if a courtyard existed, there would be those not allowed inside due to banning or overcrowding. Would the Ellice Street shelter suffer a similar problem with loitering street people around the building?

The Mayor's Task Force report stresses the importance of a client-based treatment system as opposed to a service tied to a large facility.

Councillor Thornton-Joe was at the front table alongside the Mayor. In the audience were Councillors Madoff, Young, Holland and Coleman.

Afterward, Councillor Young said to me, why build more shelters when our present shelter is seldom filled? He answered his own question by saying shelters are the cheapest form of dealing with the homeless, and is much easier than solving the crisis with housing, detox and job training.

"[Randall's] aesthetic poll was more accurate than his political acumen"

-Tom Hawthorne, Toronto Globe and Mail


#14 Caramia

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Posted 19 February 2008 - 05:12 PM

I don't see it as an either or scenario - we need a graduated approach, with shelters for people who are on the streets for a short period of time (which is still the majority) and as entrance points to the system for "regulars" who don't make it off the street on their own (which is still the minority).

My understanding is that the numbers wouldn't change - the same number of people who use Streetlink right now would be using the new shelter - minus the people who are able to transition into the new supportive housing at the old Streetlink site I suppose. The big difference would be that the new shelter is purpose built, which would help to reduce the impact on the surroundings. Streetlink is a problem atm because it was never meant to handle the numbers it is servicing, and the central location makes it an easy spot to congregate. Moving it to downtown's shoulder makes sense in that it adds a bit of effort to getting there making it less likely as a hang out spot for those who are not allowed in. In the meantime, the design which includes a central courtyard would give habitat to those who are using it as intended, as a refuge and place to be, and an access point for whatever health or housing services they require.

I've always seen industrial areas as the obvious pairing for services for the street community - they shut down at night when shelters open. The people who tend to frequent them are blue collar types who are less likely to be upset by the sight of someone looking a bit rough then perhaps the denizens of the condos and design district that has sprung up around Store St might be.

Ultimately, it has to go somewhere. Yes we do need to funnel the worst cases out of shelters into mental health treatment, drug treatment, and housing. But we still need a quick stop for those people who just don't have a place to live for a short while. I've volunteered at Streetlink some over the last couple of years - and during that time one of my big surprises was that a lot of these people had jobs! I had never stopped to think that maybe Streetlink's clients might be drywallers, mill workers, and construction labourers, and even ESL teachers recently returned from Asia - but there they were! I don't think those folk need supportive housing or detox. I think they just need a place to sleep for a few nights, or maybe a month while they find housing.

Regarding the daycare - I don't see it as a deal breaker. I understand that the City might be willing to assist in the daycare relocating if needs to. If that is the case this "crises" may turn into an opportunity for them.

#15 Audrey

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Posted 19 February 2008 - 06:38 PM

Unlike Coreyburger (I believe) who dumped on Richard Leblanc's idea for the habilitative facility (farm) in Saanich, I think facilities like that farm, which focus on supportive programming and therapy, have a real place in terms of restoring people's health and dignity. Do shelters do that? If they did, why do so many homeless people rather sleep on the street than check into a shelter? It's not just because they can't bring drugs into the premises -- it's often b/c they consider the shelters unsafe. If the homeless themselves think the shelters are unsafe, it makes you wonder.


Some, not many, homeless people chose to sleep outside rather than in a shelter because of noise. Sometimes it's because they don't like being in close quarters with people suffering from addictions. Drunks and people coming off from a high kind of suck to be around, but safety really isn't the issue.

The farm idea is a lousy one because it removes people from their community. Going to work in a remote location, while living there, is a huge leap of faith even for someone who WANTS to learn farming skills... and how many people really aspire to be a farmer? Some, but not most.

#16 Caramia

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Posted 19 February 2008 - 08:38 PM

That really depends who you are. If we were talking about a farm where people were "shipped off" against their will I would agree. But as a retreat where people can go and work hard and be sober, it is a wonderful idea. I know people who would love to be part of something like that. If the argument is that street people aren't interested, you need to widen your social contacts within the street community.

#17 Nominalis

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Posted 20 February 2008 - 10:25 AM

Bottom line, "street people" congregate in downtown areas because that's where the tobacco, caffiene, white flour and sugar is. As well as spare change, alcohol and the illegal drugs.

To put it simply, they will move to wherever you give them free cigarettes and if you give them free alcohol and drugs they will stay put.

If they're willing to pick-up butts on a rainy day they'd be willing to build boats and paddle out to the middle of the Pacific if a barge full of free smokes was anchored there.
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#18 collywobbles

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Posted 20 February 2008 - 11:00 AM

"'Street people' congregate in downtown areas because that's where the tobacco, caffiene, white flour and sugar is."

Hey! Me too!

#19 Rob Randall

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Posted 20 February 2008 - 11:29 AM

The Yukon shelter in Vancouver's Marpole district is an example of a shelter that operates in an urban area with a minimum of disruptions. There is a police station across the street but the police report that they are busier in other areas and that the shelter has little impact. The neighbouring Starbucks is satisfied, saying that apart from a couple of minor incidents the shelter is a good neighbour. The shelter staff are able to quickly squelch any disburbances. Maybe a community police station would be a good addition to Ellice Street.

"[Randall's] aesthetic poll was more accurate than his political acumen"

-Tom Hawthorne, Toronto Globe and Mail


#20 Audrey

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Posted 20 February 2008 - 02:28 PM

If the argument is that street people aren't interested, you need to widen your social contacts within the street community.


That's a little harsh. I spend most of my time working with the street community, and I'm still of the opinion that a majority of our folks wouldn't be interested in jumping blindly into a program meant to turn them into labourers. Some would, yes, but I think there would have to be some gradual steps to build trust with the organizers before any real number of street people would sign up for anything like that.

And of course, if it weren't 100% optional with the choice of leaving at any point, it would be regarded not only with mistrust, but hostility.

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