Urgent Call for Extreme Weather Shelter Space in the Comox Valley

October 19, 2023

Local governments in the Comox Valley and K’ómoks First Nation, in partnership with the Coalition to End Homelessness, are asking for community support to offer potential locations where an extreme weather shelter could be located this year.

“From approximately November 1 to March 31, we’re looking for a suitable space to support individuals who are unhoused with necessary shelter and care as we enter the cold and rainy season,” explains Jesse Ketler, Comox Valley Regional District (CVRD) Chair. “In past years the community has come together to provide a space, however this year those spaces are no longer available.

"We are now facing a season without additional shelter beds to bring people inside from the cold. We’re hoping the community can come together in a time of need.”

According to the 2023 Comox Valley Homeless Count completed by the Comox Valley Coalition to End Homelessness, the number of people experiencing homelessness in the area has more than doubled since 2020, jumping from 132 to 272, with the majority of people having lived in our community for more than five years.

Once a location is identified, funding is available from the Province for an Extreme Weather Response (EWR) shelter to ensure unsheltered individuals living in our community have a safe and warm place to be overnight during the winter months.

We are looking for a location that provides the following: 

  • Dry and secure space (minimum 1,500 square feet)
  • Ideally two locations to support the diversity of needs of those experiencing homelessness, with each space accommodating 20-40 people
  • Two washrooms
  • Kitchen space is ideal but not required
  • Available starting in November through March 31, 2024 ideally from 8pm – 8am daily
  • Will require fire department approval (proper emergency exits, etc.)

EWR shelters are funded by the Province and operated by local agencies. The agency is responsible for providing the shelter service, building neighbourhood relationships, and working proactively with first responders, RCMP, and other community organizations to meet the needs of shelter guests and the community. 

If you have a location that would be suitable, please contact Angela Fletcher, Comox Valley Coalition to End Homelessness, or 250-218-3752.

Partner Quotes:
City of Courtenay
“The approaching winter could mean life or death for those without a place of their own. We’ve heard heartbreaking stories from people who've suffered from hypothermia, frostbite, and pneumonia, all of which are completely preventable. That's why the shortage of extreme weather shelter space this year is an all-hands-on-deck situation. We’re grateful that all Comox Valley local governments, outreach organizations, and regional, provincial, and federal partners are working together on this, and we’re asking the community to consider joining us in the search for solutions as well.”
-    Mayor Bob Wells

K’ómoks First Nation
“Through the collective leadership of the Comox Valley within the unceded Territory of K’ómoks First Nation, I am pleased with this group coming together to try to come up with a solution for this upcoming serious issue.”
-    Chief Councillor Ken Price

Town of Comox
"As a region, we are asking for our communities to show up in a big way and assist in securing a location for shelter space in the immediate future. We have local (Comox) and Comox Valley residents facing housing insecurity. We collectively understand how important it is for everyone to have a safe, warm indoor space. We have seen, especially in the Comox Valley, our residents and businesses come together many times before to rally together with solutions. This time is no different. The increase in housing insecurity in the Comox Valley continues to show how important working together with all levels of government and our own community relationships are. We ask that you consider what connections for space(s) you may have in the upcoming week."
-    Mayor Nicole Minions

Village of Cumberland
“It is devasting to see the effects of homelessness affecting an increasing number of people. As winter approaches and extreme weather events become more common the ability to provide shelter is crucial. We are grateful to be collaborating with the City of Courtenay, CVRD and Town of Comox and the Coalition in support of our underhoused residents.”
-    Mayor Vickey Brown

The Comox Valley Regional District is a partnership of three electoral areas and three municipalities operating on the unceded traditional territory of the K’ómoks First Nation, the traditional keepers of the land. The members of the regional district work collaboratively on providing sustainable services for the benefit of the diverse urban and rural areas of the Comox Valley.