New operator yet to be named for Eighth Avenue shelter

Port Alberni, BC

With only two weeks until the Port Alberni Shelter Society’s (PASS) contract ends to operate Our Home on Eighth, a new provider for the shelter has yet to be named.

BC Housing terminated PASS’s contract to operate the shelter and supportive housing facility earlier this year, ending the contract as of March 31. BC Housing then invited Indigenous-focused housing and shelter providers to submit proposals to operate the facility and services at Our Home at Eighth.

“We are currently reviewing those proposals and we will reach out to shelter guests, supportive housing residents and the Port Alberni community once we have signed an agreement with a new operator,” BC Housing said in an emailed statement. “Once a new operator is selected, we will work with PASS and the new provider to ensure a seamless transition for guests and residents. We anticipate that there will be no interruption or disruption of services for individuals at Our Home at Eighth.”

BC Housing said they have a duty to ensure shelters and supportive housing facilities are appropriately operated and that residents and staff are being supported.

“This duty is for shelter guests and supportive housing residents, as well as the community of Port Alberni,” BC Housing said. “Because this matter is being discussed through legal counsel, we cannot comment further.”

Wes Hewitt, PASS executive director, said he has not had any discussions with BC Housing about a new provider or why their contract was cancelled.

“There’s been no public disclosure of anything like that. [BC Housing] just used the 90-day clause and that was it,” Hewitt said.

Hewitt said it’s disappointing to see PASS’s contract end as the society has put a lot of time and energy into making Our Home on Eighth what it is today.

“This building wouldn’t be here if it hadn’t been for us,” Hewitt said. “We spent over a quarter of a million dollars of our own money and negotiated all the lease agreements and things with Island Health for the property.”

The society will continue to operate other facilities in the Alberni Valley, including the supportive home on Maitland Street, the Overdose Prevention Site and sobering centre, among others.

“This is not going to be the end of PASS by any means. We have a lot of other things that we do, other sites and other programs,” Hewitt said. “We’re alive and well and we’re always looking for the support in the community. We’re thankful for the support that we get and we’ve had a lot of people that have donated to us because of the announcement and showed their support.”

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