An older woman in a toque and gloves blows into her hands to warm them up.

Photo Credit: Canva

SRD Leaving People Out In The Cold

"Our partner organizations no longer have the physical or human resources to open these critical services on their own"

Regional District taking no responsibility

“Each year, the SRD comes to the city and wants to use the community centre… It gets cold every winter… we’ve had 11 months to find a solution and haven’t done anything.”

That’s the voice of Kermit Dahl, the new mayor of Campbell River. And wouldn’t you know, it’s that time of year again.

For those of us with cozy homes, we’re looking forward to the holidays.

Those of us without are just looking for a place to get out of the cold.

The District Coalition to End Homelessness has been trying to find a space to put a shelter for the past two years. And the Regional District is apparently not about to help.

“As the population of unhoused individuals and families increases, [Campbell River non-profit organizations] no longer have the physical or human resources to open these critical services on their own,” said a letter from the coalition to the SRD asking for help.

Despite the pleas, the district refused.

In the first SRD meeting, directors were asked by the Coalition if the regional district would be able to take on operating homeless shelters under contract with the province.

The first step would’ve been directing staff to report back on any obligations and costs associated with operating homeless shelters.

Seven directors—Doug Chapman, Kermit Dahl, Ron Kerr, Ben Lanyon and Susan Sinott, Electoral Area A director Gerald Whalley and Tahsis director Martin Davis—voted against moving forward with a report on the matter.

They told the coalition that the SRD won’t be taking on the responsibility.

Kermit Dahl was concerned about the use of the community centre earlier this year as an extreme weather shelter.

After the motion was defeated, Dahl said that there has been “11 months to find a solution,” and that “nobody has done anything.”

Chief Administrative Officer David Leitch, one of the directors who’d voted to approve the motion, snapped back.

“We’re happy to do something,” Leitch said. “But you’ve just told us not to do anything.”

Also, Dahl is the mayor of the city he represents at the SRD. Shouldn’t he be the one do something? Didn’t he literally just say “let’s get stuff done” when he was voted in as mayor? Does this not count as stuff?

Other directors agreed with Leitch, saying that a report could open up examinations into providing shelter for other parts of the regional district as well, not just Campbell River.

“We don’t operate that service,” Leitch said. “There needs to be some discussion about this, the service is not being provided … We’re just trying to put our finger in the dyke. We’re happy to do it for a number of reasons. We may be in the city, but it gets cold in Area B, C, and D too.”

The coalition is not a legal entity that can apply for funding, SRD strategic initiatives manager Renee Laboucane said.

For now, it seems both the non-profits—and the people they provide for—are being left out in the cold.