Cowichan school district approves women’s winter shelter

The Cowichan Valley School District’s board of education has approved in principle the leasing of a vacant public building for a winter shelter for women.

Pending approval from the Municipality of North Cowichan, the old concession building at Cowichan Place could be made available to the Cowichan Women Against Violence Society (CWAV) from this November through to March 31, 2019.

The Women’s Winter Weather Response Shelter comes after months of deliberations and community considerations.

RELATED: Ladysmith Extreme Weather Shelter moving to new permanent location

“As a strong member within our community, the Board of Education of the Cowichan Valley School District recognizes that the challenges facing our community require collaborative response,” said Board of Education chair Candace Spilsbury. “We acknowledge that these are difficult decisions that require compromise, understanding, patience, and good will.”

CWAVS will now seek approval of a temporary use permit for land use that is not currently captured under the municipal zoning.

The next meeting of North Cowichan council is scheduled for Nov. 21.

Earlier this year the City of Duncan rejected the proposals to create a women’s shelter Charles Hoey school and later at 540 Cairnsmore St.

The Extreme Weather Shelter in town operated by the Ladysmith Resources Centre Association offers 6 beds for men and 4 for women.

Conscious of the potential for concerned parents, Spilsbury issued a letter to Wendy’s House (a preschool activity centre located immediately beside the proposed shelter) users.

“We recognize that the dedicated users of the Strong Start at Wendy’s House may be confused by this decision, as the old concession stand is a neighbour of Wendy’s House,” Spilsbury wrote. “We know what a special place Wendy’s is…and we can assure you the decision to approve the lease in principle was not taken lightly.”

Spilsbury noted in the letter that there would be no overlapping hours between the two facilities and there would be 24-hour staff coverage at the shelter on the Wendy’s House operating days. Moreover, CWAV has made the commitment to have shelter staff inspect and remove any refuse, within a 50-foot radius of the concession building and Wendy’s House.

With files from Sarah Simpson

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