The District of Sechelt is helping in the process to find an interim home for the shelter on Wharf Street that burnt down earlier this week.
The fire broke out early on Tuesday morning. Firefighters were on scene quickly, within minutes, but damage had already occurred. The building’s sprinkler system kicked in and has caused a lot of water damage along with any fire damage. The structure can be restored, but it’s going to take some time.
It was housing 36 people at the time of the fire. The rough estimate for restoring service in the original shelter is between 3 to 6 months.
Sechelt Mayor John Henderson says since the incident some have been able to find short-term housing, but others have been left on their own.
The shelter is run by and operated through BC Housing and Rain City Housing and Health Society – who are ultimately responsible for implementing a solution. As for the type of solution, Henderson says they’re looking at spaces owned by organizations like churches or others that may have some open space to offer some beds. It’s a path laden with challenges, but the District hopes to have some options of interim locations by the end of the weekend.
“What I hope is that we’ll have some solutions from the District side [by then],” says Henderson. “Then we’ll need BC Housing to step up and pay for them and make sure that they get implemented. It’s very difficult. We don’t have a 36-room facility standing empty anywhere. So our ability to respond quickly is really challenged.”
Henderson says all parties are going to need to get creative to find a solution.
“Given the severity of the fire, we need housing for several months for these people,” says Henderson. “A solution is going to take a lot of creativity. Today I can’t tell you that we have the perfect solution, but we’re doing everything we can as the District.”
Henderson wanted to give a particular shout out to the first responders as well as Town of Gibsons Mayor Silas White and staff at the municipal level who’ve been working on the solution.
“When an emergency happens, people jump to get involved and it’s been great from them,” says Henderson.
The work continued today with several emergency meetings as the processs to find an interim location gets underway.
“We’ve had a couple of meetings today,” says Henderson. “We’re emphasizing that it’s important to get a fast solution that will help us get housing solutions for the people that have been displaced.”