Our Home on 8th, the Port Alberni Shelter that opened in March 2019, has 27 extra ‘extreme weather’ spaces for people who need a place to get out of the cold. (SUSAN QUINN/ Alberni Valley News)

Our Home on 8th, the Port Alberni Shelter that opened in March 2019, has 27 extra ‘extreme weather’ spaces for people who need a place to get out of the cold. (SUSAN QUINN/ Alberni Valley News)

BC VOTES 2020: Mid-Island candidate plans occupation of shelter to protest homelessness

Graham Hughes says homeless situation a ‘crisis’ in Port Alberni

Mid Island-Pacific Rim independent candidate Graham Hughes will be staging an occupation of the Port Alberni Shelter Society on Friday, Oct. 23 to protest the handling of Port Alberni’s homelessness problem.

The Port Alberni Shelter Society operates the Our Home on Eighth full-service shelter, low-barrier housing and a sobering centre at Phoenix House, an overdose prevention site and community farm, all in and around Port Alberni. Hughes said his sister died while she was a client of the shelter six years ago.

Hughes decided to run for MLA as an independent candidate on a social advocacy platform. He said he hopes to “provide a voice for the disenfranchised in our community.”

Hughes and fellow candidates Helen Poon (BC Liberals) and Rob Clarke (BC Libertarian Party) spent several nights last weekend walking around the city’s vulnerable neighbourhoods handing out warm blankets, food and naloxone kits. Hughes said the homelessness situation is “in crisis,” and is asking his supporters to help him demonstrate for attention on Oct. 23.

“We will be building a tent city around the shelter society in solidarity with the homeless population who we have let die, and suffer and be traumatized because we trusted charities to do the right thing and everybody just assumed that they were,” he said.

Hughes has been vocal in his opposition to the shelter and the way it is operated.

Shelter society executive director Wes Hewitt said he was aware of Hughes’ call to occupy the shelter, but declined to address specific accusations Hughes has made publicly against the shelter. “BC Housing is aware of (the occupation) and so is Island Health.”

Hughes said officials should be petitioning to take over the former Gill Elementary School facility, which is sitting empty since School District 70 (Pacific Rim) reorganized a number of years ago. Community organizations have used the building for storage and training operations, but the property has not been sold nor has the school been demolished.

“We need to turn that into a youth shelter, and with the $3.5 million the shelter is currently receiving every year, we can open a youth shelter. We need to be doing these things…we can change the way this community is run.”

In an e-mail sent to two dozen municipal officials as well as the media Hughes appeared to throw his support behind BC Green Party candidate Evan Jolicoeur. He reiterated that in a YouTube video uploaded to his campaign Facebook page: “I am in Evan’s corner,” Hughes said.

Several hours later Jolicoeur released a statement confirming Hughes is endorsing him in Saturday’s provincial election.

BC politicsBC Votes 2020HomelessPort Alberni

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

The Port Alberni Train Station is located outside the entrance to Harbour Quay, on Harbour Road in Port Alberni. (AV NEWS FILE PHOTO)
Port Alberni gets funding to restore heritage train station

Historic train station needs seismic upgrades

Raw logs are loaded onto a logging ship from a log sort down the Alberni Inlet in March 2019. SUSAN QUINN/ Alberni Valley News
Port Alberni light on industrial land

Report finds few suitable locations for new industry

Cowichan Valley writer Jennifer Manuel will headlining YakFest on March 1. (SUBMITTED PHOTO)
Cowichan Valley writer to headline next YakFest on March 1

YakFest is a B.C.-based monthly women’s event held online via Zoom

The North Island College campus in Port Alberni is located on Roger Street. (SUBMITTED PHOTO)
North Island College plans tourism networking event

The COVID-19 pandemic has had a dramatic impact on Vancouver Island’s tourism industry

Members of Alberni Valley Rescue Squad were at the Alberni Valley Regional Airport on Saturday, Aug. 8, 2020 to practice helicopter hover exit training with Ascent Helicopters out of Parksville. When executing a search in difficult terrain, it isn’t always possible to land a helicopter, so volunteer searchers must be certified in hover exits. (BILL MCLEOD/ Special to the AV News)
Alberni Valley Rescue Society receives much-needed $40K gaming grant

Bamfield volunteer fire department also funded

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry updates B.C.’s COVID-19 situation at the B.C. legislature. (B.C. government)
B.C. reports 10 additional deaths, 395 new COVID-19 cases

The majority of new coronavirus infections were in the Fraser Health region

Several BC Ferries sailings are cancelled Friday due to adverse weather. (Black Press Media File)
All B.C. Ferries sailings cancelled due to winds, adverse weather

Adverse weather causes cancellations across several BC Ferries routes

Bryan Adams with his mom, Jane Adams Clark, at Lions Gate Hospital. (Bryan Adams)
Bryan Adams gives shout out to North Shore hospital

The singer’s mom was in Lions Gate Hospital for care

Shoppers will be able to get their hands on signed bottles of Ryan Reynolds’ new gin at B.C. liquor stores this summer. (Twitter/Ryan Reynolds)
Ryan Reynold’s new Aviation Gin autographed and coming to B.C. stores

This summer 100 bottles will be available to the public for purchase across five B.C. liquor stores

Wayne Allen's graduation photo from Chemainus Secondary School. (Photo submitted)
Brother charged with murder in Vancouver Island teenager’s Ontario death

Jesse James Allen stands accused in the death of Wayne Allen, a 2020 Chemainus Secondary grad

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Police in Nanaimo found multiple graffiti tags they allege were made by three men arrested for mischief in Maffeo Sutton Park on Feb. 15. (Photo submitted)
Graffiti taggers caught in Nanaimo with paint on their hands

Three suspects arrested at Maffeo Sutton Park last week

An official investigation will be launched after VPD officers were recorded posing near a dead body at Third Beach on Wednesday morning, Feb. 24. (Screen grab/Zachary Ratcliff)
VIDEO: Vancouver officers under review for allegedly laughing, taking pictures next to dead body

Two officers were caught on video by a local beachgoer Wednesday morning in Stanley Park

Kim McGregor died in the Feb. 14 hit-and-run accident in Chemainus. (Photo submitted)
Victim identified in Valentine’s Day Chemainus hit-and-run

Kim McGregor grew up in Chemainus and had recently returned to be close to his parents

Most Read