Posted by Diana Matsuda on Jul 27, 2018
Nineteen members gathered at The Beach Club this morning to welcome the beginning of a beautiful day in Parksville.  They were joined by three guests: Patrick Proudlock, guest of Bob Barclay, and our guest speakers, Renate Sutherland and Violet Hayes from the Oceanside Task Force on Homelessness.
 
John O’Brien used his Two Minutes of Rotary to reflect back 10 years ago, reading a list of our members from 2008, some of whom are still active members while others have moved on for various reasons. John encouraged current members to take the opportunity to contact some of these members and encourage them to come back to Rotary.
 
Beach Fest
Arthur Wong updated the members on our commitments as Beach Fest Ambassadors.  We completed one shift yesterday and have two more to go on August 2 and 12, from 9 am – 1 pm.  We have more than enough volunteers for the two remaining shifts, and Arthur thanked everyone in the Club for their enthusiasm in supporting this project.
 
Foundation
Lynne Pearson reviewed the Club’s Foundation goals for the 2018-19 Rotary year and asked for approval from the members:
  1.  The Annual Fund – last year’s goal was $6500 US which we did achieve; however, it was a challenge.  Lynne recommended that we set a goal of $6000 US for 2018-19. Approved unanimously.
  2. Polio Plus – last year’s goal was $1000 US which we achieved easily.  Lynne recommended that we set a goal of $2000 US for 2018-19.  Approved unanimously.
  3. 100% Annual Giving – we have accomplished this goal for the past four years although sometimes it is a struggle.  Lynne recommended that we continue this goal for 2018-19 and requested that members consider making their contribution early in the Rotary year so it is not a scramble at the end of June.  Approved unanimously.  

    Remember Folks: this is not a hard goal to achieve – your contribution can be as low as $5 or it can easily be made through the purchase of a pack of Foundation Bucks.

RCMP Musical Ride
John O’Brien reported on the status of the RCMP Musical Ride which is rapidly approaching on August 21 and 22. All arrangements are now in place and tickets are going well.  Everyone is encouraged to purchase tickets quickly for family and friends, as there will be no more printed.  Lori Sepp will do a count from all outlets after the long weekend and consolidate any remaining tickets at one location.
 
Arrangements for food have been well coordinated by Elaine Young.  The Interact Club will handle drinks and cold snacks; there will be two vendors on site to offer hot food options.  Parking will be handled by volunteers from the Vancouver Island Compassion Dogs. 
 
On August 18 at 10 am, there will be a work bee to move fresh shavings into the stalls for the horses.  Stall clean-up after the event will be handled by 4-H Club members.
Gates open to the public at 6 pm. Volunteers on both days should gather at the weigh station at 3:30 pm so they can be shuttled over to Arbutus Meadows and be on site by 4 pm.  Thanks to Major Norm and the Salvation Army for providing vans to offer the shuttle service.  The Salvation Army is also providing their truck to haul bleachers from Ballenas, as well as a refrigerated truck to keep concession items cold.
 
Presentation: Oceanside Task Force on Homelessness
Our guest speakers this morning, introduced by Gord Svenson, were Violet Hayes and Renate Sutherland from the Oceanside Task Force on Homelessness.  Their topic was 222 Corfield Street South, a project that has generated a great deal of animosity and divided the community of Parksville.
 
Renate and Violet began by explaining that the origins of the project date back to 2010 when former Mayor Ed Mayne saw a video prepared by Robin Campbell from the Manna Homeless Society, showing the deplorable conditions that some people in our community were living in.  A Task Force on Homelessness was formed and in 2011, the first extreme weather shelter was opened at the Salvation Army Church where it operated until 2015.  It was then moved to the Island Crisis Care Society (ICCS) in 2016 and 2017.
 
The Task Force is made up of local and regional governments, service agencies, and concerned citizens and is supported by the region’s MLA and MP. It is co-chaired by the executive directors of the SOS, Forward House, and ICCS.
 
As a result of the work of the Task Force, BC Housing has committed $6.9M in funding for a new modular building consisting of 52 studio and one bedroom suites. Island Crisis Care Society has been contracted to run the facility and will provide 24/7 staffing and maintenance. 
 
Partners include the Oceanside Task Force on Homelessness, City of Parksville, Town of Qualicum Beach, Regional District of Nanaimo, Island Crisis Care Society and BC Housing.The City of Parksville will lease the land to BC Housing for the life of the building. The land was secured through a per capita contribution agreement between the City of Parksville, the Regional District of Nanaimo, and the Town of Qualicum Beach.  
 
ICCS staff will provide support to residents, as well as security and management. The three-storey building will suit the architectural style of the neighbourhood and each home will include a private bathroom and a kitchen. The type of housing is classified as long term supportive housing.  There will be additional space for cold weather shelter use between November and March, consisting of three rooms and 8 beds, with a separate area for women.
 
The rationale for choosing 222 Corfield as the location for this project is that it is within walking distance of the SOS, library, grocery store, Salvation Army, Hirst House, and Forward House. Evidence suggests that people who move from homelessness to supportive housing do best if the housing is situated near these kinds of services. The type of land situated at this location also fit the requirements for modular construction and was vacant.
 
Unfortunately, there have been rumours and misinformation about this project, and Violet and Renate are attempting to dispel these rumours and negativity through presentations such as the one this morning.  This project is not a “wet house”; it is a supportive housing project where residents will sign an agreement outlining their plans for their road to recovery and wellness. There will be expectations.
 
This is a proven model.  It is based on best practises and well documented world-wide.  Its premise is that housing must come first.Housing First is an approach used by communities throughout North America in which people with mental health challenges and addictions are given housing first, before requiring sobriety or stability. Because being without a home is one of the biggest stressors on anyone, removing this need allows people to use their attention for other issues besides finding a place to sleep. Housing first is known to help reduce substance use.
 
The Homelessness Outreach Support Team (HOST) will be involved in the selection of residents for this complex.  HOST is a formal partnership to better serve Oceanside’s most vulnerable population who are experiencing homelessness and instability by helping them to access and maintain housing, and to improve health outcomes through the provision of inter-agency collaboration and support services.  
 
HOST is made up of workers from Island Crisis Care Society, Society of Organized Services, Mental Health and Substance Use Services, Canadian Mental Health Association, and Forward House Community Society. HOST allows clients to have access to 7-day-a-week support, and assists in open communication among agencies to ensure coordinated and informed support is delivered with a client-centered focus. HOST team members will be working hard to ensure that the fit is right and that those chosen to become residents will be set up for success.
 
Those selected for housing in this complex will be adults (19 or older) who are “absolutely homeless” or at risk of homelessness, with an income of less than the Housing Income Limits for Parksville-Qualicum.  A nationally recognized Vulnerability Assessment Tool will be used to assess applicants’ needs and help to ensure that those chosen will have a good chance of being successful.  Residents must be willing to accept support, to set goals and to follow the rules of the building. Residents will receive support to maintain their tenancy, including daily meal services for as long as they choose to live there, and as long as they comply with their program agreement. People wishing to move on to other types of housing will be supported to do so.
 
 As for staff support, there will be two or more employees on site at all times. Volunteers will be involved after receiving specific training to work with vulnerable adults.  For example, food and food preparation support will be given – just the basics of how to cook a simple meal helps to stabilize people. Support workers will be responsible for maintaining security and safety within the building, and to maintain a good relationship with the surrounding neighbourhood.  The building will be designed for what it is intended to be.  It will have doors that lock, fencing and security cameras, but it won’t look like a prison.
 
The re-zoning for the building has now gone through and it is expected that acquiring the Development Permit will take two months, after which a Community Advisory Committee will be struck.  The Island Crisis Care Society will be looking for members from the community to serve on this committee and they are committed to keeping the dialogue open.  Their objective is to set up this project for success so that it is safe for residents and for the surrounding community.  They recognize that it is not a solution to homelessness in our community; it is just a “port” and the Task Force on Homelessness will continue despite this achievement.  Most “affordable” housing is not really affordable to the people this residence is intended to serve.
 
It was noted that this project is similar to Uplands Walk in Nanaimo, a supportive housing complex with 24/7 staffing and 33 units.  This complex houses men and women who were either homeless or at risk of becoming homeless. When first announced, the project received vocal opposition from local residents who claimed that crime would increase and housing values would drop. Crime did not increase and property values have increased.
 
The building at 222 Corfield is projected to open the spring of 2019.  Unfortunately, incorrect information about this project in Parksville has contributed to deep divisions within our community and its path to completion continues to be a rocky one.  Tracy Greenshields thanked Renate and Violet for their determination and leadership in carrying this much needed project forward, and Club members also expressed their appreciation for the compassion and commitment of these two community leaders in the face of often virulent opposition.
 
Announcements
Helen Dyck was the “birthday girl” today, but sadly was not in attendance to enjoy our melodious tones.  Happy Birthday Helen!  It was also noted that Jo and Sandy Dunn celebrated 50 years together on July 20.  And not to be outdone, Ken and Gail Armstrong celebrate 55 years on this very day.  Congratulations all!
 
Announcements for today included a “thank you” from President Bill to all those who have signed up for committees, and a reminder to those who haven’t that you are on his radar.  A thank you was also extended to Gord Svenson who organized the go-cart social event which reportedly was “a blast”.
 
Sergeant-at-Arms
Bashir El-Khalafawi was Sergeant-at-Arms today and, although there weren’t too many fines, there were numerous Happy and Sad dollars.  Bashir and Judie will be celebrating 47 years on August 7, and will be spending their anniversary in Victoria.  Many Happy Dollars were donated for Renate and Violet’s talk and their fortitude in the face of much opposition and negativity.  Further Happy Dollars were given in recognition of Irina, our Russian business student and her positive influence in the homes and businesses she has visited during her month long stay in Parksville.  A Sad Dollar was given by Tracy Greenshields in remembrance of the victims of the recent Toronto shooting.
 
But the meeting did end on a happy note as Jo Dunn told a very funny golfing joke, a perfect ending to a perfect Parksville morning.  All members left to enjoy the warm sunny day, with a warning to take care in the heat and be thankful we are not in Phoenix, Arizona where the temperature is expected to reach 47 degrees C.