Rev. Christine Muise at St. Anne’s Church on Jan. 8 in Parksville. (Cloe Logan photo)

Rev. Christine Muise at St. Anne’s Church on Jan. 8 in Parksville. (Cloe Logan photo)

COVID-19: Shelter-seeking B.C. homeless group resorts to sleeping in graveyard

People to camp near Parksville church at night as group looks for assistance

A group of homeless people in the Parksville Qualicum Beach area are set to begin camping in a graveyard.

As of Tuesday (April 21), 18 people affected by homelessness will camp at night at the graveyard between St. Anne’s and St. Edmund’s church in Parksville — not far from where many of them slept for months.

St. Anne’s church was the sole shelter in the area until it was closed down in mid-March due to COVID-19 concerns. After the shelter closed, five people slept outside the doors of the church, having nowhere else to go.

Now, it’s been almost a month without a shelter, and Rev. Christine Muise said OHEART decided the graveyard could work as a temporary measure. Some people have been put up in hotels, provided by BC Housing, but Muise said that isn’t an option that works for everyone — many need a staffed shelter, like they had before.

Muise is a founding member of OHEART, the group that worked with BC Housing to originally find a shelter solution, which consisted of nine Parksville Qualicum Beach area churches that came together to find an answer. She’s asking for help from the municipal and provincial governments, as well as BC Housing.

“Our hope is that we’re just doing this for a short time and in the long term there is a space being created,” she said. “Because that’s what they agreed to do.”

READ MORE: COVID-19: No clear timeline for replacement shelter solution in Parksville Qualicum Beach area

READ MORE: ‘I bawled, it was heartbreaking’: Parksville shelter forced to close due to COVID-19 concerns

READ MORE: How Parksville’s St. Anne’s became a place homeless people would actually go

At a Regional District of Nanaimo meeting on March 25, the board passed a motion that read:

“The RDN board directs RDN staff to communicate and work with the provincial government, BC Housing, Oceanside Heart and the municipal CAOs of Oceanside in an effort to replace the St. Anne’s Assisi shelter for Oceanside during this provincial state of emergency due to COVID-19.”

Ian Thorpe, RDN board chairman, was not able to comment on Tuesday.

”The chair has advised that the information is still “in camera” and he is not able to comment on it,” read an email from Christina Gray, communications co-ordinator for the RDN.

The move to start using the graveyard comes after a letter was sent by OHEART and The Oceanside Task Force on Homelessness (OTFH) to BC Housing and Island Health, recommending they do more to help people affected by homelessness in the area.

Specifically, they recommended the bodies create a co-ordinated emergency COVID-19 transmission prevention and isolation plan for affected individuals.

Susanna Newton, SOS executive director and co-chair of OTFH, said it’s a pressing problem in the area.

“We know that population hasn’t left, they’re still here,” she said. “So, what are the best things that should be in place to support that population and obviously keep them safe? And keep our community safe because I’m sure everybody recognizes that if they get sick and they’re in our communities then that’s a serious issue.”

They’ve made the following recommendations, among others, in their letter:

• Hotel rooms with food and supply delivery;

• A shelter space with food, water and sanitation;

• Assisting those who are sheltering in place with additional service supply of food, water, garbage removal and camping supplies (toilets) and medications delivered via Mid Island Peer Support;

• A centralized food production and distribution model for shelters and housing providers.

cloe.logan@pqbnews.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter 

CoronavirusHomelessnessParksvillequalicum beach

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

Just Posted

Motorists breaking travel rules can be fined $230 for failing to follow instructions or $575 if the reason for travel violates the essential travel health order, at this Highway 3 check area near Manning Park. Photo RCMP
RCMP begin stopping drivers on BC highways – check point at Manning Park

Four check points are set up Thursday May 6 around the province

The Aquilini Investment Group has agreed to a proposed contract of five years to run the Abbotsford Centre. (File photo)
Proposal to run Abbotsford Centre offered to Canucks ownership group

Planned five-year contract to cost city $750K annually, starting Jan. 1, 2022

The AHL Board of Governors has approved the Vancouver Canucks decision to move their franchise to Abbotsford. (File photo)
AHL approves Canucks’ franchise relocation to Abbotsford

Board of Governors approves move, season set to start on Oct. 15

Abbotsford Police Department Traffic Enforcement Unit officers were enforcing Highway 11 on Thursday morning. (Ben Lypka/Abbotsford News)
Abbotsford police enforce traffic on Highway 11

APD Traffic Enforcement Unit regularly responds to general public hot spot complaints

First responders were on the scene at West Oaks Mall following a collision involving a pedestrian on Sept. 29, 2020. (Kevin MacDonald file photo)
Man charged in relation to hit-and-run that injured pedestrian in Abbotsford

Collision took place in September 2020 in crosswalk at West Oaks Mall

Protesters attempt to stop clear-cutting of old-growth trees in Fairy Creek near Port Renfrew. (Will O’Connell photo)
VIDEO: Workers, activists clash at site of Vancouver Island logging operation

Forest license holders asking for independent investigation into incident

Surrey RCMP is investigating after a serious three-vehicle crash at the intersection of King George Boulevard and 128th Street Thursday afternoon (May 6, 2021). (Photo: Shane MacKichan)
VIDEO: Serious crash in Surrey sends 1 to hospital

Surrey RCMP say one of the drivers fled on foot, but was later found at an area hospital

Starting Tuesday, May 11, B.C. adults born in 1981 and earlier will be able to register for a vaccine dose. (Haley Ritchie/Black Press Media)
BC adults 40+ eligible to book COVID-19 vaccinations next week

Starting Tuesday, people born in 1981 and earlier will be able to schedule their inoculation against the virus

John Paul Fraser, executive director of the BC Salmon Farmers Association. (Screen shot)
Salmon farmers warn Surrey jobs on line as feds end Discovery Islands operations

344 full-time jobs at risk in Surrey and 1,189 B.C.-wide

Parks Canada and Tla-o-qui-aht Tribal Parks dig the washed up Princess M out from sand along the south shore of the Pacific Rim National Park Reserve. (Nora O’Malley photo)
Rescue attempt costs man his boat off Pacific Rim National Park Reserve

Coast Guard response questioned after volunteer responder’s speedboat capsizes in heavy swells

Al Kowalko shows off the province’s first electric school bus, running kids to three elementary and two secondary schools on the West Shore. (Zoe Ducklow/News Staff)
B.C.’s first electric school bus making the rounds in Victoria suburbs

No emissions, no fuel costs and less maintenance will offset the $750K upfront expense

Road sign on Highway 1 west of Hope warns drivers of COVID-19 essential travel road checks on the highways into the B.C. Interior. (Jessica Peters/Chilliwack Progress)
B.C. residents want travel checks at Alberta border, MLA says

Police road checks in place at highways out of Vancouver area

Victoria police say the photo they circulated of an alleged cat thief was actually a woman taking her own cat to the vet. (Black Press Media File Photo)
Photo of suspected cat thief released by Victoria police actually just woman with her pet

Police learned the she didn’t steal Penelope the cat, and was actually taking her cat to the vet

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Most Read