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

A dose of COVID-19 vaccine is prepared at a vaccination clinic in Montreal’s Olympic Stadium on Tuesday, Feb. 23, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Paul Chiasson
39 new cases of COVID-19 in Interior Health region

The total number of cases in the region since the pandemic began is now at 7,334

A rainbow shining on Kelowna General Hospital on May 12, 2020 International Nurses Day. (Steve Wensley - Prime Light Media)
New COVID cases trending down in Interior Health

24 new cases reported Thursday, Feb. 25, death at Kelowna General Hospital

From left: Councillor Lucy Taylor, Councillor Barry Banford, Councillor Bill Haring, Mayor Merlin Blackwell, Councillor Lynne Frizzle, Councillor Lyle Mckenzie and Councillor Shelley Sim. (District of Clearwater photo)
Council to consider raising taxes in 2021

The District of Clearwater council is considering a tax increase this year… Continue reading

A nurse performs a test on a patient at a drive-in COVID-19 clinic in Montreal, on Wednesday, October 21, 2020. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Paul Chiasson)
30 new COVID-19 cases, five more deaths in Interior Health

This brings the total number of cases to 7,271 since testing began

FILE – A COVID-19 vaccine being prepared. (Olivia Sullivan/Sound Publishing)
B.C. seniors 80 years and older to get COVID vaccine details over next 2 weeks: Henry

Province is expanding vaccine workforce as officials ramp up age-based rollout

Abbotsford’s Kris Collins turned to TikTok out of boredom when the provincial COVID-19 lockdown began in March 2020. She now has over 23 million followers on the video app. Photo: Submitted
Internet famous: Abbotsford’s Kris Collins is a TikTok comedy queen

Collins has found surprise stardom alone with a phone

A Vancouver restaurant owner was found guilty of violating B.C.’s Human Rights Code by discriminating against customers on the basis of their race. (Pixabay)
Vancouver restaurant owner ordered to pay $4,000 to customers after racist remark

Referring to patrons as ‘you Arabs’ constitutes discrimination under B.C.’s Human Rights Code, ruling deems

Nanaimo children’s author and illustrator Lindsay Ford’s latest book is ‘Science Girl.’ (Photo courtesy Lindsay Ford)
B.C. children’s writer encourages girls to pursue the sciences in new book

Lindsay Ford is holding a virtual launch for latest book, ‘Science Girl’

Pig races at the 145th annual Chilliwack Fair on Aug. 12, 2017. Monday, March 1, 2021 is Pig Day. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress file)
Unofficial holidays: Here’s what people are celebrating for the week of Feb. 28 to March 6

Pig Day, Canadian Bacon Day and Grammar Day are all coming up this week

Staff from the Marine Mammal Rescue Centre, passersby, RCMP and Nanaimo Fire Rescue carried a sick 300-kilogram steller sea lion up the steep bluff at Invermere Beach in north Nanaimo in an attempt to save the animal’s life Thursday. (Photo courtesy Marine Mammal Rescue Centre)
300-kilogram sea lion muscled up from B.C. beach in rescue attempt

Animal dies despite efforts of Nanaimo marine mammal rescue team, emergency personnel and bystanders

Doctors and counsellors warn of an increase in panic attacks, anxiety, depression and suicide ideas between ages 10 to 14, in Campbell River. ( Black Press file photo)
Extended pandemic feeding the anxieties of B.C.’s youth

Parents not sure what to do, urged to reach out for help

Kara Sorensen, diagnosed with lung cancer in July, says it’s important for people to view her as healthy and vibrant, rather than sick. (Photo courtesy of Karen Sorensen)
B.C. woman must seek treatment overseas for inoperable lung cancer

Fundraising page launched on Karen Sorensen’s behalf, with a goal of $250,000

Gina Adams as she works on her latest piece titled ‘Undying Love’. (Submitted photo)
‘Toothless’ the kitty inspires B.C. wood carver to break out the chainsaw

Inspired by plight of a toothless cat, Gina Adams offers proceeds from her artwork to help animals

B.C. Finance Minister Selina Robinson presents bill to delay B.C.’s budget as late as April 30, and allow further spending before that, B.C. legislature, Dec. 8, 2020. (Hansard TV)
How big is B.C.’s COVID-19 deficit? We’ll find out April 20

More borrowing expected as pandemic enters second year

Most Read