The plan to open a temporary winter overnight shelter for the homeless in the Revelstoke United Church has been suspended for this winter.
For some background, here’s an August 2019 archive story from revelstokemountaineer.com journalist Melissa Jameson on the proponents and their plans:
The initiative was to create the shelter in the basement of the Mackenzie Avenue church during the winter weather season. The shelter would open its doors in the evening and require those using it to leave in the morning. The plan was to provide basics, such as food and other amenities.
However, plans for the shelter ran into a number of challenges, starting with premature community outreach.
In addition, the shelter would require a temporary use permit, but the city’s temporary use permitting bylaw was out of date, so the city opted to update the bylaw. For more background, see this story:
In an early setback for the shelter plans resulting from a communication error, proponents jumped the gun and distributed notices to neighbouring properties, although the consultation had not been approved by council, leading to a backlash as neighbours tried to find more information about the project:
In response to follow-up questions on the shelter plans from the Mountaineer, City of Revelstoke Director of Development Services Marianne Wade confirmed that the plans are on hold for this winter, saying the city is hitting the “refresh button” on the plan for the shelter.
Wade said there were a number of issues with the building that need to be addressed before the shelter opens, including fire access and egress problems.
Wade said the city plans to work on the project, possibly for next winter, adding that a number of extra steps would be added this time, including a community consultation plan.
“Development Services will hire a consultant and we’re going to prepare a report for council,” Wade said. Part of the consultation would include “needs and demands research,” she said.
The Revelstoke Women’s Shelter Society was to carry out management duties at the proposed shelter, but a spokesperson confirmed today that the society is no longer involved in the project.
We spoke with Revelstoke United Church minister David Cooke about future plans for the project now that it has been cancelled for the year. See our conversation in the embedded video below.
Cooke said the church is planning to continue with plans for a shelter and the project, saying the church is exploring holding the management contract itself.
He said the church has already upgraded its fire alarm system and was exploring options for access and egress, including installing a new door, which would be costly.
Cooke said helping those in need aligns with the church’s philosophy. For more from Minister Cooke, see the YouTube video embedded above.
Late last year, BC Housing released a list of temporary shelters it was funding and included Revelstoke’s proposed facility. Wade said there was no dollar amount attached to the grant because it would be dependent on the funding needed to operate the facility. Wade said the funding would be available next winter if the project gets off the ground.