Alberni’s homelessness plan gets a revamp

Port Alberni's homelessness study, created in 2007, is undergoing a rewrite.

With the 2007 study on how to end homelessness in the Alberni Valley turning seven this year, the Alberni Valley Community Stakeholders Initiative to End Homeless (AVCSI) believes it’s time for an update, Patty Edwards, the constituency assistant to Alberni-Pacific Rim MLA Scott Fraser, told city council during their Jan. 26 meeting.

The AVSCI was first formed in 2007 as a result of a partnership between Fraser’s office and the city council of the day.

A stakeholders meeting was convened in March 2007.

In attendance were representatives from various levels of government, agencies, non-governmental organizations and churches.

“In 2007 we got a small grant from VIHA and we wrote our initial plan [to end homelessness],” Edwards said. “Now seven years later that plan is out of date, a lot of different things have changed, there’s different players so we needed to rewrite the plan.”

The AVSCI applied to the Alberni Valley Foundation to rewrite the plan in 2015.

They called for proposals and chose Amanda Ridgway of IGNITE Consultancy.

“We’re really keen to look at the project in terms of an engagement process,” said Ridgway, adding that the Alberni Valley faces its own unique challenges.

“We don’t see people on park benches or in hotel lobbies but there are people living in really unhealthy [conditions,] living in campers… a lot of people couch surfing. It’s people being underhoused, there are a lot of people at risk for homelessness.”

While many issues that lead to homelessness, from wages to the amount of senior government funding, are out of civic government’s control, Ridgway said that she is still looking for city input and assistance in putting the plan together.

Coun. Chris Alemany will be council’s liaison with the AVSCI and Ridgway.

“We are interested in looking at a service user consultation component and any idea or funding or support for that… would be great,” said Ridgway.