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 Rollin Art Centre’s Mistletoe Market begins on Dec. 1. (SUBMITTED PHOTO)
ARTS AROUND: Rollin Art Centre prepares for Mistletoe Market

Artisans and crafters are still needed for annual Christmas craft fair

‘Homelessness’ means many things to people with no permanent place to sleep. For some, the challenge to find safe shelter is greater than for others. (SUSAN QUINN/ Alberni Valley News)
Port Alberni mother battles to find housing for her son

Mary Elles fears her son will die on the street before he will find safe housing

Andy Richards of Dog Mountain Brewing demonstrates their new canning machine. (FACEBOOK PHOTO)
BIZ BEAT: Local businesses need support during holidays

Bosley’s helping pets out during holiday season

Captain Michael Ramsay of the Salvation Army is ready for the annual Christmas Kettle Campaign in the Alberni Valley. (ELENA RARDON / ALBERNI VALLEY NEWS)
COVID-19 can’t stop Salvation Army’s kettle campaign

Innovation drives annual fundraising campaign for 2020

A man wearing a face mask to help curb the spread of COVID-19 walks in downtown Vancouver, B.C., Sunday, Nov. 22, 2020. The use of masks is mandatory in indoor public and retail spaces in the province. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
B.C. records deadliest day of pandemic with 13 deaths, 738 new COVID-19 cases

Number of people in hospital is nearing 300, while total cases near 30,000

(File photo)
Alberta woman charged after allegedly hitting boy with watermelon at Okanagan campsite

Police say a disagreement among friends at an Adams Lake campsite turned ugly

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good
Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

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

Court of Appeal for British Columbia in Vancouver. (File photo: Tom Zytaruk)
B.C. woman loses appeal to have second child by using late husband’s sperm

Assisted Human Reproduction Act prohibits the removal of human reproductive material from a donor without consent

Krista Macinnis displays the homework assignment that her Grade 6 daughter received on Tuesday. (Submitted photo)
B.C. mom angry that students asked to list positive stories about residential schools

Daughter’s Grade 6 class asked to write down 5 positive stories or facts

B.C. projects targeting the restoration of sockeye salmon stocks in the Fraser and Columbia Watersheds will share in $10.9 million of federal funding to protect species at risk. (Kenny Regan photo)
13 projects protecting B.C. aquatic species at risk receive $11 million in federal funding

Salmon and marine mammals expected to benefit from ecosystem-based approach

Picture of two swans leaving the Cowichan estuary moments before one was shot out of the sky. (Submitted photo)
Petition to stop hunting in Cowichan estuary after swan shot

Hunters blame shooting on illegal poachers

Most Read