Port Alberni Shelter Society executive director Wes Hewitt talks about the partnerships that led to the opening of Our Home on Eighth shelter in Port Alberni. SUSAN QUINN/Alberni Valley News

Port Alberni Shelter Society executive director Wes Hewitt talks about the partnerships that led to the opening of Our Home on Eighth shelter in Port Alberni. SUSAN QUINN/Alberni Valley News

BC Housing agrees to review of Port Alberni shelter

City’s mayor, shelter’s executive director welcome news of independent review

British Columbia (BC) Housing has committed to a third-party review of the Port Alberni Shelter Society. Port Alberni Mayor Sharie Minions announced the news late Friday night, Oct. 30, in a press release.

The news came as a protest outside the shelter hit its seventh day. Organizer Graham Hughes was arrested Friday morning and later released, and those with tents set up on the lawn at Our Home on Eighth shelter were told by Port Alberni RCMP to remove them.

Minions and Coun. Deb Haggard visited the protest site earlier in the week and said an investigation was needed to look into allegations Hughes and other protesters have made against the management of the shelter. Many of the allegations are unproven and the AV News by law cannot share them.

“We believe strongly as a local government that the services offered in our community by the Port Alberni Shelter Society and BC Housing are absolutely vital,” Minions said. “Confidence in these services and service providers is essential and we recognize that the concerns being expressed have diminished that confidence in a significant way.”

READ: City of Port Alberni calls for investigation into shelter allegations

Minions applauded BC Housing’s decision and said the city will support the review process “to (ensure) that all voices in our community have the opportunity to be heard, especially those of our vulnerable populations.”

Minions called for protesters to take down their tent city now that BC Housing has agreed to an independent review “in order to allow due process to be undertaken.” She said BC Housing has already started the process to bring a consultant in to complete the review.

READ: Shelter protest organizer arrested, released

Port Alberni Shelter Society executive director Wes Hewitt said in a separate statement he welcomes any formal inquiry through its governing agencies.

“The Port Alberni Shelter Society has contractual agreements with organizations including BC Housing and the Vancouver Island Health Authority,” Hewitt said. “As such, we cannot and will not comment publicly on confidential issues.”

He said there are formal “and responsive” channels through BC Housing and Island Health where members of the public may express their concerns.

Hewitt said he was aware of the public and social media posts about the shelter society and its operations. “The tone and content of this conversation has been disheartening to hear as it does not accurately reflect the way in which the Port Alberni Shelter Society (PASS) conducts its operations,” Hewitt said.

“We care about all who face challenges in homelessness, mental health and substance use—this is why we do what we do. There is much work still to be done in our community.”

The shelter society has operated for more than 40 years. It oversees a multi-service shelter (Our Home on Eighth), low barrier housing and a sobering centre (Phoenix House), overdose prevention site and the Shelter Farm, a vegetable farm.

“We take all concerns through appropriate channels seriously and will respond as appropriate.”

The shelter society is moving forward with development of a “therapeutic recovery community” for women in the Alberni Valley and to provide an affordable housing option at its former site, also on Eighth Avenue, for seniors.

ALSO READ: Island Health hits reset on Alberni’s overdose prevention site

BC HousingHousing and HomelessnessPort Alberni

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

 

Port Alberni Shelter Society executive director Wes Hewitt announces a new supportive housing project on Eighth Avenue. Behind him stands Port Alberni Mayor Mike Ruttan and Mid Island-Pacific Rim MLA Scott Fraser. ELENA RARDON PHOTO

Port Alberni Shelter Society executive director Wes Hewitt announces a new supportive housing project on Eighth Avenue. Behind him stands Port Alberni Mayor Mike Ruttan and Mid Island-Pacific Rim MLA Scott Fraser. ELENA RARDON PHOTO

Just Posted

Island Health chief medical officer Dr. Richard Stanwick receives a first dose of Pfizer vaccine, Dec. 22, 2020. (B.C. government)
COVID-19: B.C. seniors aged 90+ can start to sign up for vaccination on March 8

Long-term care residents protected by shots already given

The Alberni Valley’s Emergency Operations Centre is located around the corner and below the Alberni-Clayoquot Regional District office. (AV NEWS FILE PHOTO)
Alberni-Clayoquot Regional District tests new mobile alert system

Residents can still sign up for free Voyent Alert! emergency messaging

Crews respond to a structure fire in the 6000 block of Renton Road in Cherry Creek on Saturday, Feb. 27. (FACEBOOK PHOTO)
Workshop destroyed in Cherry Creek fire

Crews stayed on scene overnight fighting ‘stubborn’ blaze

(NEWS FILE PHOTO)
Tax error in 2020 means lower rate for residents in 2021

Alberni’s taxation for regional library accidently written down twice

Part of a new housing development proposal for the former Alberni District Secondary School site. (SCREENSHOT)
Housing gap widens in Port Alberni

Vancouver Island city suffers from ‘missing middle’ to housing density

Langley resident Carrie MacKay shared a video showing how stairs are a challenge after spending weeks in hospital battling COVID-19 (Special to Langley Advance Times)
VIDEO: Stairs a challenge for B.C. woman who chronicled COVID-19 battle

‘I can now walk for six (to) 10 minutes a day’

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry updates B.C.’s coronavirus situation, May 8, 2020. (B.C. government photo)
B.C.’s weekend COVID-19 cases: 532 Saturday, 508 Sunday, 438 Monday

Fraser Health still has most, eight more coronavirus deaths

B.C. Attorney General David Eby speaks in the legislature, Dec. 7, 2020. Eby was given responsibility for housing after the October 2020 provincial election. (Hansard TV)
B.C. extends COVID-19 rent freeze again, to the end of 2021

‘Renoviction’ rules tightened, rent capped to inflation in 2022

Face mask hangs from a rear-view mirror. (Black Press image)
B.C. CDC unveils guide on how to carpool during the pandemic

Wearing masks, keeping windows open key to slowing the spread of COVID-19

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

Churches, including Langley’s Riverside Calvary Church, are challenging the regulations barring them from holding in-person worship services during COVID-19. (Langley Advance Times file)
Det. Sgt. Jim Callender. (Hamilton Police Service screenshot)
B.C. man dead, woman seriously injured after shooting in Hamilton, Ont.

The man was in the process of moving to the greater Toronto area, police say

Wildlife advocate Gary Schroyen captured this picture of a one-year-old cougar in the Sooke Hills using a homemade trip camera. Vancouver Island is home to approximately 800 cougars, which makes up about a quarter of the total population in B.C. (Gary Schroyen photo)
Wildlife advocate Gary Schroyen captured this picture of a one-year-old cougar in the Sooke Hill using a homemade trip camera. Schroyen presents Animal Signs: The Essence of Animal Communication on Nov. 30. (Gary Schroyen photo)
Declining Vancouver Island cougar populations linked to wolves

Large carnivore specialist says human development still plays biggest role on cougar numbers

Most Read