MAYOR’S LETTER: Sooke delivers on helping the homeless

MAYOR’S LETTER: Sooke delivers on helping the homeless

But there’s been a few hiccups along the way, says mayor

Maja Tait | District of Sooke mayor

Sooke is an exceptional community.

Like everywhere else, however, we have our share of domestic violence, crime, and challenges related to addiction and mental health. I’m proud that Sooke meets these challenges head-on with as much compassion, planning, and care as is realistically possible.

During this pandemic, we all have been asked to establish a “new normal.” Fear and uncertainly could have stopped us. Yet here we are in July entering Phase 3 of the B.C. Restart Plan and doing our best to follow the provincial health officer’s directives to minimize the clear and present danger of a second wave striking like a tsunami in the fall.

One of our biggest challenges as a district has been to meet Dr. Bonnie Henry’s request that local governments find a safe and secure indoor shelter for the unhoused.

Long before the pandemic, the district had been thinking outside the box in forging new relationships with community partners and leveraging existing ones to find solutions that work for everyone.

In the fall of 2017, I hosted a gathering at the Sooke Municipal Hall to forge a path forward with key stakeholders, including members of our homeless population.

This gathering resulted in the district assigning a coordinating role to the Sooke Region Community Health Network. Asked to step up big-time in March, SRCHN has done fantastic work alongside B.C. Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing, the Sooke Shelter Society, the Sooke Food Bank, and other support groups in working with our homeless population.

Despite a few hiccups, the SEAPARC shelter solution worked exceptionally well for two months.

Now we have secured another short-term indoor shelter for approximately 17 campers – the majority of them part of the bubble that formed at our recreation centre and moved, of their own volition and without notice as is their right under the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, to Ed Macgregor Park when shelter beds are unavailable.

The district, the RCMP, SRCHN, and B.C. Housing have all responded quickly and professionally to the changing scenario. Located on a private piece of land, the new space is currently being renovated before the anticipated July 20 move-in. Every person will get their bed and have access to washroom facilities.

Predictably enough, “fake news” has been circulating locally. The residents were not “kicked out” of SEAPARC; they had to move on because the recreation centre was slowly reopening. Nobody, not once, considered moving campers into Broomhill Playground Park. There has been no influx of the homeless from elsewhere, and we’ve worked exclusively with our homeless population. B.C. Housing is covering all costs with not a penny coming from municipal taxes.

This process has been “Made in Sooke, for Sooke, by Sooke.”

Frankly, I’m amazed, moved, and, as I said at the outset, truly proud of what’s been accomplished to date. We in Sooke have big hearts, and we take care of our own. If you have further concerns and questions, please contact the Sooke Municipal Hall or read the updates and detailed FAQ answers at www.sooke.ca.

•••

Maja Tait is the District of Sooke mayor.

Sooke council

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Capital Regional District Animal Control say an eight-month-old Rottweiler bit a Langford mother and her child near Glen Lake on Nov. 19. (Black Press Media file photo)
Large dog attacks mother and child in Langford

Mother puts three-year-old on top of car to protect him

Nikita, a four-year-old German Shepherd that was attacked by a buck in a backyard in Esquimalt Sunday is lucky the injury wasn't more severe. (Photo contributed by Suzette Goldsworthy)
Esquimalt dog owner issues alert after deer injures German shepherd

Nikita needed stitches after an early morning encounter

(Black Press Media file photo)
Police arrest man covered in blood on heels of significant Saanich crash into woods

Resident calls in home invasion in progress after crash

BC Transit is investigating a ‘rapid bus’ action plan for Greater Victoria. (Black Press Media file photo)
BC Transit launches investigation after passenger fall from upper deck

A passenger went to hospital after a fall from the upper deck

The Victoria Police Department headquarters. (Black Press Media file photo)
Investigation launched into man’s death after arrest in Victoria

IIO investigation to determine if police actions or inaction played a role in the man’s death

People wearing face masks to help curb the spread of COVID-19 cross a street in downtown Vancouver, on Sunday, November 22, 2020. The use of masks is mandatory in indoor public and retail spaces in the province. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
B.C. reports 17 COVID deaths, 1,933 new cases as hospitalizations surge over the weekend

There are 277 people in hospital, of whom 59 are in ICU or critical care

An aerial shot of Cedar Valley Lodge this past August, LNG Canada’s newest accommodation for workers at the project site in Kitimat. This is where several employees are isolating after a COVID-19 outbreak was declared last Thursday (Nov. 19). (Photo courtesy of LNG Canada)
Forty-one positive COVID-19 cases associated with the LNG Canada site outbreak in Kitimat

Thirty-four of the 41 cases remain active, according to Northern Health

Workers arrive at the Lynn Valley Care Centre seniors home, in North Vancouver, B.C., on Saturday, March 14, 2020. It was the site of Canada’s first COVID-19 outbreak in a long-term care facility. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Rapid tests ‘not a panacea’ for care homes, Dr. Bonnie Henry says

B.C. lacks capacity for daily tests of thousands of workers

(Delta Police Department photo)
Cannabis edibles found in Halloween bag lead B.C. police to illegal lab

Delta police arrested a man and a woman while executing a warrant at a residential property Nov. 20

A woman being arrested at a Kelowna Value Village after refusing to wear a mask on Nov. 22.(@Jules50278750/Twitter)
VIDEO: Woman arrested for refusing to wear mask at Kelowna Value Village

RCMP claims the woman was uncooperative with officers, striking them a number of times and screaming

B.C. Liberal MLA Shirley Bond questions NDP government ministers in the B.C. legislature, Feb. 19, 2020. (Hansard TV)
Cabinet veteran Shirley Bond chosen interim leader of B.C. Liberals

28-member opposition prepares for December legislature session

Motorists wait to enter a Fraser Health COVID-19 testing facility, in Surrey, B.C., on Monday, November 9, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
COVID-19: What do rising positivity rates mean for B.C.? It’s not entirely clear

Coronavirus cases are on the rise but the province has not unveiled clear thresholds for further measures

A rider carves a path on Yanks Peak Saturday, Nov. 21. Two men from Prince George went missing on the mountain the next day. One of them, Colin Jalbert, made it back after digging out his sled from four feet under the snow. The other, Mike Harbak, is still missing. Local search and rescue teams went out looking Monday, Nov. 23. (Sam Fait Photo)
‘I could still be the one out there’: Snowmobiler rescued, 1 missing on northern B.C. mountain

As Quesnel search and rescue teams search for the remaining rider, Colin Jalbert is resting at home

Most Read