St. Anne’s Church in Parksville. (File photo)

COVID-19: Parksville’s homeless no longer sleeping in the graveyard

Majority of those camped outside St. Anne’s church have been provided with hotel rooms

Homeless people in Parksville will no longer be sleeping in a graveyard.

The majority of people who were staying at the graveyard near St. Anne’s church have been moved to hotel rooms provided by BC Housing.

A month after the only shelter in the area closed due to COVID-19 concerns and with no news of an alternative on the horizon, the community group OHEART got some tents together last week as a temporary solution. They were set up on the grounds of St. Anne’s, the location of the closed shelter. However, Rev. Christine Muise said the blowback from them setting up the camp on the old graveyard was significant.

RELATED: Shelter-seeking Island homeless group resorts to sleeping in graveyard

People camped on the property for two nights before the hotel rooms were offered up and the decision was made to pull back from the site.

Muise is a founding member of OHEART, the group that worked with BC Housing to originally find a shelter solution.

“If we have folks and we know where they are and we know how they are, then we’re far more able to assist them than if they’re scattered and hiding all over town,” she said. “That’s the bigger public health side of things, and then we realized we couldn’t keep them safe on-site.”

Muise said people were “understandably upset” about the idea of people camping on the graveyard.

”At no point was a guest staying on a ‘grave’ as we had carefully designated spots on an access road,” said Muise in a press release. “Given the reaction and concern of families and friends of the parish and beyond, we realized that we could no longer offer this location as a possibility.”

Muise said five people and one peer worker camped at St. Anne’s for the two nights. Four of them have been put in hotel rooms.

“We know there’s at least 10 more that are living rough within the city, I guess you would say,” she said. “Those are the 30 people we’re dealing with because there’s also people that are being housed in another location… that’s 20 people.”

Muise said it’s a bigger picture than the people who stayed at the shelter. She said there are 80 to 100 people outside of the Parksville Qualicum Beach area limits who are living “relatively rough.” She also points to people who might have been barely making it before the COVID-19 pandemic hit.

RELATED: B.C. enacts provincial order to move homeless at Victoria encampments into hotels

Muise said the 10 new hotel rooms represent a good step and she’s waiting for news of a staffed shelter solution for the area.

“I think it materialized because there became pressure from all sides,” she said. “We all realized that something needs to happen and it’s in much bigger hands than what a small group of a church can do. We’ve known that all along.”

cloe.logan@pqbnews.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter 

BC HousingCoronavirusParksvillequalicum beach

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

Just Posted

Victoria police are asking for help locating 14-year-old, high-risk missing youth, Anabella Lilly. (Victoria Police Department)
Victoria police seek help locating high-risk missing youth

Police say the circumstances under which 14-year-old Anabella Lilly went missing are “high-risk”

Victoria fire crews quickly extinguished a multi-unit apartment building fire near Beacon Hill Park on Oct. 30. (Courtesy of Chief Paul Bruce)
Victoria fire crews extinguish multi-unit fire near Beacon Hill Park

Two people have suffered non-life-threatening injuries

Cat owners are being warned to keep their pets indoors after a threatening note was found posted in a North Saanich neighbourhood. (Kendra Crighton/News Staff)
ROAM warns Peninsula cat owners after threatening note posted in neighbourhood

Note writer doesn’t want cats pooping in their yard, threatens to trap them

Norm Scott, president of the Royal Canadian Legion Branch no. 91 in Lanford, pins the first poppy to launch the annual Poppy Campaign on George Baker, who served with the Royal Canadian Air Force from 1953 to 1989. Baker said it was an honour to be chosen for something so significant for veterans everywhere. (Rick Stiebel/News Staff)
Poppy campaign launches in Langford with pinning ceremony

The poppy campaign is officially underway with the first of the pins… Continue reading

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry arrives for briefing on the COVID-19 situation, B.C. legislature, Oct. 26, 2020 (B.C. government)
B.C. records 217 more COVID-19 cases, mask use urged

Infection spike continues, 21 senior facilities affected

President Donald Trump speaks at a campaign rally in Allentown, Pa. on Oct. 26. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)
POLL: How closely are you following the U.S. presidential election?

It may feel like it’s been going on forever but the U.S.… Continue reading

This house at 414 Royal Ave. became notorious for its residents’ and visitors’ penchant for attracting police. It was also the site of a gruesome torture in August 2018. It was demolished in 2019. KTW
6-year sentence for Kamloops man who helped carve ‘rat’ into flesh of fellow gang member

Ricky Dennis was one of three men involved in the August 2018 attack

Cpl. Nathan Berze, media officer for the Mission RCMP, giving an update on the investigation at 11:30 a.m., Oct. 30. Patrick Penner photo.
VIDEO: Prisoner convicted of first-degree murder still at large from Mission Institution

When 10 p.m. count was conducted, staff discovered Roderick Muchikekwanape had disappeared

Among the pumpkin carvings created this year by Rick Chong of Abbotsford is this tribute to fallen officer Cont. Allan Young.
Abbotsford pumpkin carver’s creations include fallen police officer

Rick Chong carves and displays 30 pumpkins every year

An online fundraising campaign in support of the six-year-old boy, Edgar Colby, who was hit by a car on Range Road Oct. 25 has raised more than $62,000 in a day. (Submitted)
$62K raised in 1 day for boy in coma at BC Children’s after being hit by vehicle in Yukon

The boy’s aunt says the family is “very grateful” for the support they’ve received from the community

Police service dog Herc helped RCMP locate and arrest suspects in the Ladysmith area on Oct. 23, 2020, related to a stolen vehicle. (Submitted)
RCMP nab prolific property offender in Ladysmith with assist from police dog Herc

Police attempted to stop the vehicle but it fled from the area towards Chemainus.

Health care employees take extensive precautions when working with people infected or suspected of having COVID-19. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chris Young
WorkSafeBC disallows majority of COVID-19 job injury claims

Health care, social services employees filing the most claims

Conservative leader Erin O’Toole rises during Question Period in the House of Commons in Ottawa on Wednesday October 28, 2020. (Adrian Wyld/The Canadian Press)
Conversion therapy ban gets approval in principle, exposes Conservative divisions

Erin O’Toole himself voted in favour of the bill, as did most Conservative MPs

Most Read