Temporary Tenting Site to House Vulnerable Populations During the COVID-19 Crisis to be Constructed at Fuller Lake Arena Parking Lot

(North Cowichan, BC) – This week, the Cowichan Housing Association will be alerting stakeholders and residents adjacent to the Fuller Lake Arena parking lot that this location has been selected as a temporary housing site for homeless or precariously housed individuals. Here, a small-scale, “family cluster” outdoor tenting site will be set up that will accommodate up to 12 people. North Cowichan identified the Fuller Lake Parking lot as a potential location in response to the Provincial government’s call to assist vulnerable populations during the COVID-19 crisis. This was done with the caveat that additional security and safety measures would need to be put in place to protect both the residents of Chemainus, and those who will be inhabiting the tenting sites.

These sites are part of a collaborative multi-phase plan to provide short and long-term housing solutions to help address the homelessness crisis many communities across BC are facing. Through the regional COVID-19 Task Force for Vulnerable Populations, a plan was submitted to BC Housing. This Plan detailed a phased approach, with the short-term tenting sites being Phase One, and the medium to long-term plan including a post-COVID-19 transition strategy to ensure tenting sites do not remain permanent fixtures in our community. Approximately 6-8 tenting sites will be set up across the Cowichan Valley in Duncan, Ladysmith, North Cowichan, and on Cowichan Tribes Land.

Fencing and tents will begin to be set up in Chemainus early on Tuesday, May 19, 2020, and occupancy is planned for later that day. All tenting sites, including the Fuller Lake location, will be closely managed, with enhanced security patrols, garbage removal, daily food service, outreach contact, hygiene facilities, and more. These services will help limit the spread of COVID-19 among our most vulnerable residents and also protect the public at large from further community transmission. Additionally, anyone who tests positive for COVID-19 will not be allowed to occupy a tent, but will instead be provided with a hotel room to self-isolate in until their symptoms resolve.

“While I acknowledge there are some concerns in the community about the Fuller Lake Arena parking lot being a short-term tenting site, it is important to note that this site will be occupied by homeless individuals already residing in the Chemainus area,” said Mayor Al Siebring. “It is essential to the health and safety of our community that everyone has the opportunity to shelter in place and isolate, whether or not they are infected with COVID-19. The Community is safer with these tenting sites in place, and I am pleased to see this step being taken to help protect all residents during this public health crisis.”

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Media Contact:         
Al Siebring, Mayor
Municipality of North Cowichan
T 250.746.3117
E Mayor@northcowichan.ca