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Sage Haven Society, BC Housing celebrate housing project in Port Alberni

Second-stage housing for women, children to be complete in summer 2023
Wahmeesh Ken Watts, Tseshaht First Nation elected chief councillor, offers a prayer at the celebration of Sage Haven Society’s second stage housing project on Nov. 25 in the foyer at Port Alberni City Hall. To his left is Josie Osborne, Mid Island-Pacific Rim MLA. On his right are Tracy Melis and Hareena Gillis. (HEATHER WARREN/ Alberni Valley News)



Sage Haven Society and BC Housing celebrated the progression of their second stage housing project at Port Alberni City Hall on Friday, Nov. 25. The new building will provide 22 housing units for women and gender-diverse people and their dependent children leaving violence.

Approximately $8.6 million in funds has been allocated to the project through the province’s Building BC: Women’s Transition Housing Fund. The province will also provide annual operating funding.

The building is under construction on city-owned property; the city is leasing the land to BC Housing.

Sage Haven Society (formerly Alberni Community and Women’s Services Society) submitted the successful bid to the province back in 2018. As the operator of the building, it will provide on-site supports to residents such as safety planning, crisis intervention, parenting support and tenancy resources. Units will be offered for periods of six to 24 months and are intended to transition residents to independent, permanent housing. Rents will be 30 percent of income or the provincial shelter rate for those on assistance.

“It’s been an incredible partnership,” said Josie Osborne, MLA for Mid Island – Pacific Rim. “Obviously an incredible effort by Sage Haven Society and together with the support from the City of Port Alberni and from BC Housing, being able to provide 22 homes for women that are escaping domestic violence and need a safe place to land. It’s something that we’ve needed here in this community for a very long time.”

Ellen Frood, Sage Haven Society’s executive director, credited the city and BC Housing for their support during the process.

“This is a great moment for Port Alberni. On behalf of our board, we are honoured to be involved in such a meaningful project. From the initial concept to planning and construction now underway, it is exceptional to see the amount of support and collaboration that Sage Haven has had working in partnership with BC Housing and having the full support of the City of Port Alberni. This initiative will ensure that many women and children leaving domestic violence have a safe and connected space to be.”

Many partners and supporters turned out for the celebration. BC Housing’s Sairoz Sekhon, Director of Women’s Transition Housing and Supports Program, who has worked with Sage Haven Society from the inception of the project, travelled from Burnaby to attend.

Hupacasath First Nation Chief Councillor Brandy Lauder was in attendance, as was Tseshaht First Nation Chief Councillor Wahmeesh Ken Watts and Tseshaht Councillor Jennifer Gallic, who recently accepted an invitation to become Sage Haven Society’s newest board member. City council was represented by Councillor John Douglas, as Mayor Sharie Minions was unable to attend due to illness.

The foundation for the building has been poured and construction is underway near Glenwood Centre. The project is being managed by Island West Coast Developments Ltd. of Nanaimo and is expected to be complete by summer 2023.

The Blue Knights Vancouver Island Club recently presented a donation of gift cards totalling $250 to Sage Haven Society. Blue Knights VI chapter vice-president Ted McGill, second from left, and other club members present Sage Haven Society executive director Ellen Frood, left, with the gift cards. Members of the Blue Knights are current and former law enforcement personnel. Two towns are chosen each year to receive the funds, and this year it was Port Alberni and Duncan. (HEATHER WARREN /Alberni Valley News)