Castlegar’s only homeless shelter will close at the end of the month.
BC Housing says Castlegar and District Community Services, which operates the Way Out Shelter in the former Flamingo Motel, recently told them they can no longer provide the service.
“We’re not talking this decision lightly and recognize it’s going to have an impact on the community,” BC Housing vice-president Sara Goldvine said in an interview.
“While the shelter was always meant to be temporary we certainly recognize this is a very challenging situation for the community.”
Goldvine said the building is not suitable or safe for long-term use and the location puts pressures on the provider.
“They’re a really great partner for us. Like many providers across the Kootenays and across the province they need to make sure they have the right staff and supports in place to support folks. That’s really challenging in this location.”
The shelter has 13 beds and has been full since it opened downtown in November 2020. It moved to 1660 Columbia Avenue in 2021.
Last July city council agreed to extend its operating permit for another three years, subject to annual reviews. It came a week after some businesses aired their grievances about the shelter at a special meeting.
As for those people currently staying at the shelter, Goldvine said they are working with the Ministry of Social Development and Poverty Reduction to find alternatives.
She said outreach workers are currently “working closely with folks to help connect them to options that work for them. Those solutions look different for everyone depending on their needs.”
Goldvine said the society’s decision to withdraw its services at the end of March was based on “many complex factors” and BC Housing continues to work on creating more affordable housing in the area.
“We recognize shelters are not a permanent solution to homelessness,” she said. “They’re always meant to be there as an emergency stop-gap. While we’re disappointed this shelter is closing, ultimately our goal is to work with partners to open new permanent affordable homes. That’s what people need.”
We have requested an interview with Castlegar and District Community Services.