Nelson has secured more than 30 spaces in locations within the city for vulnerable people in the community to help reduce the spread of COVID-19 local committee chair and Nelson Police Chief Paul Burkart said Wednesday.
The spaces are part of a push by the provincial government, that has seen 23 locations throughout BC secure up to 900 single occupancy rooms.
“These spaces are for those people in the community who are vulnerable, including seniors or those experiencing homelessness, who would be able to recover and self-isolate at these locations,” Chief Burkart explained.
Chief Burkart is joined on the Nelson committee by representatives from Interior Health, BC Housing, City of Nelson Emergency Operations Centre, Kalein Hospice Centre, Nelson Committed on Homelessness, Stepping Stones Emergency Shelter and Nelson Cares.
BC Housing said, working with regional partners, the ministry has secured two two sites in Nelson, including eight beds at Kalein Hospice for those people who have COVID-19 and are in need of a place to self-isolate.
“In partnership with health authorities and local government, these new spaces are helping us mitigate the effect of this virus and support our health-care system in communities across the province,” said Selina Robinson, Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing.
In an emailed statement Wednesday, BC Housing said the ministry is working with regional health authorities, municipal partners and experienced non-profit shelter and housing providers to develop community-based response plans to the COVID-19 pandemic.
While BC Housing is providing the names of community centres being used, the ministry is not naming the hotels and motels involved so that these facilities can operate privately and focus on helping people who need a safe place to self-isolate.
However, another location identified in Nelson is the area behind the Civic Centre Arena and next to the Nelson Community Complex, where a homeless camp will be allowed to set up. The existing homeless camp is currently set up next to the Nelson Chamber of Commerce parking lot in the old CPR station parking at the foot of Baker Street.
This camp saw Nelson Police conduct a raid last week, where officers seized drugs and stolen property and arrested and released suspects after receiving complaints of increased criminal activity in the Railtown District of the city.
“We hope to have this (new) camp up outside the Civic Centre up and running by sometime next week,” Chief Burkart said.
“Outreach workers will be on site to assist at the camp as well as there will be security in place,” Chief Burkart added. “There will be Port-A-Potties set up and showers facilities will be available to the people at the camp inside Civic Centre Arena.”
BC Housing said non-profit societies who have significant experience working with vulnerable populations will oversee the day-to-day management of the hotels, motels and community centre spaces.
Staff will be on site regularly and will provide daily meals and cleaning services. When required, health-care workers will also provide on-site care to ensure people are getting the medical attention they need.
This initiative is part of the Province’s efforts to stop the spread of the virus and protect vulnerable people, by ensuring those who need it have the space to self-isolate when they need to.
BC Housing continues to negotiate contracts throughout the province with a number of additional hotels and expects more details to be finalized within the next two weeks. These spaces are being held in the event they are needed.
BC Housing is working with the local health authorities and will continue to add spaces as and when the need is identified by the health authorities.