Victoria’s Our Place Society is once again asking for funding to extend its summer hours.
The downtown shelter is open from 7 a.m. to 9 p.m., seven days a week from Nov. 1 to March 31, but in the spring and summer, hours whittle down t0 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. during the week and 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. on weekends.
For the second year in a row, Our Place is looking to regional forces to help extend the evening hours to 9 p.m. for the summer, at a cost of $175,000.
Having the extra hours, said Grant McKenzie, director of communications at Our Place, makes a world of difference.
“Having it open those later times grants people access to resources,” he said. “If Our Place was open 24/7 it would deal with quite a few problems that we see on the street, such as having access to washrooms or somewhere to sleep.”
Recently Our Place was able to extend its shower hours to 8:30 p.m., a move that’s made a huge impact for people who are trying to stay in the workforce.
Getting the funding to stay open isn’t easy, however. In 2019, BC Housing, Island Health and the City of Victoria each contributed $50,000 with donors making up for the remaining $25,000. This year Our Place had to reapply for the same funding.
“We have to start from zero with new grant applications,” McKenzie said. “It’s like pulling teeth every year … They’re supportive, and we’re grateful, but it’s a process.”
This year Victoria Mayor Lisa Helps, and Couns. Charlayne Thornton-Joe and Marianne Alto have put forward to a motion to grant the $50,000, saying that both Island Health and BC Housing have committed to the same amounts if the City moves forward with their own funding.
When asked why these kinds of funds aren’t simply added to the city budget in the first place, Victoria Mayor Lisa Helps told Black Press Media that it’s something that will likely be added to the 2021 budget.