Cost nearly doubles for Nanaimo's proposed homeless drop-in centre

By Spencer Sterritt
July 10, 2018 - 1:03pm

A proposed drop-in centre was initially discussed earlier in 2018 as part of a sweeping spending package and has grown considerably since then. submitted/United Way

NANAIMO — The anticipated cost for a drop-in centre in Nanaimo to provide help and services to the homeless has doubled.

A staff report presented to Nanaimo councillors on Monday, July 9 lists the new cost at roughly $650,000, up from the $350,000 first suggested by City staff several months ago. It's expected to offer health supports, counselling and assistance with paperwork and forms in an effort to help those experiencing homelessness get off the streets. No location has yet been determined.

It's grown from the initial idea presented as part of a sweeping spending package, which was $100,000 from the City as seed money for the service.

Staffing the centre is the highest cost of the project, anticipated to be at least $400,000. It's a cost arrived at by speaking with Our Place in Victoria.

“It was made clear that appropriate staffing levels for Nanaimo's proposed daytime centre would require at least three outreach workers and one maintenance personnel on the site each day,” the report claimed.

Coun. Diane Brennan said she approved of the wages because relying on volunteers for a project of such a large scope wasn't ideal.

“They need to be paid well enough that they stay,” she said of staff who will deal with people possibly suffering from severe trauma and addictions. “You need to have some staffing in place to help residents manage their relationships with each other, the staff and people who walk by.”

When questioned about the staffing cost, coun. Jerry Hong said it was his understanding the eventual costs would always be higher than originally estimated.

“If we have to do this, we want to do this properly. The goal was to actually make a space, have services and experienced staff to help these people.”

Councillors passed a motion sending a letter to Nanaimo MLA Leonard Krog, asking him for assistance in requesting money from the provincial government for the project.

When contacted Tuesday morning, Krog said he hadn't had a chance to see the letter yet but he was receptive to the idea and would help with the homelessness crisis any way he could.

NanaimoNewsNOW has reached out to staff report author and social planner John Horn for comment about the process of creating the drop-in centre. This post will be updated with his comments.


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