The City of Port Alberni has been granted more than $440,000 in joint provincial and federal funding for a multi-faceted approach to improving the health and safety of unsheltered people experiencing homelessness in the area.
The funding will allow vulnerable people in Port Alberni to have greater access to local services which will help tackle homelessness as the community recovers from the impacts of the pandemic, said Josie Osborne, MLA for Mid-Island Pacific Rim and minister of municipal affairs, in a press release.
“People in Port Alberni work hard every day to make our community a brighter, more welcoming place to live,” Osborne said. “We’re supporting the city’s work to connect vulnerable people with important services, and working towards a community where everyone is safe and healthy.”
Osborne says this investment is part of the Union of BC Municipalities’ (UBCM) Strengthening Communities Program which is providing support to 48 communities across B.C. Over $76 million will support local governments to combat the impacts of homelessness and keep their communities safe and healthy as they recover from the pandemic.
"Local governments have been on the front lines of the pandemic, supporting communities and continuing to provide critical services when people need them most," Osborne said. "These grants will provide local governments with a much-needed boost to continue vital services that were strained because of the pandemic. This is another StrongerBC program focused on making life better for people and ensuring communities emerge from the pandemic even stronger than before."
Port Alberni city council voted to apply for this funding at a council meeting back in April.
City CAO Tim Pley said the municipality’s goal is that city council will receive a staff report on the grant funding at their next meeting on Sept. 7. At that time council will consider issuing a Request for Proposals for groups and agencies to undertake one or more of the following scopes of work:
- Provide seven day-a-week coverage for a 12-month period for homeless liaison staffing to attend at interactions between homeless people and city staff and/or RCMP. The purpose of this coverage is to represent the needs of the homeless in those interactions and connect the homeless person with support agencies
- Temporary employment for homeless people providing value to the participants and the community
- Outreach programming for homeless youth
- Operate a Drop In Center complete with washrooms, showers and laundry facilities
Pley said more details for these projects will be provided when council receives a staff report on Sept. 7.