Motion Proposing Shipping Containers As Emergency Shelters Rejected At Duncan Committee Of The Whole – 1 October 2018

At the City of Duncan Committee of the Whole meeting on 1 October 2018, a Motion was put on the Agenda by Councillor Roger Bruce which advocated spending up to $10,000 to purchase or rent a second hand shipping container which had been converted into temporary emergency shelter for the City of Campbell River and transport this unit to Duncan. The conversion of this shipping container was done by a Langley based company called Shadow Lines. This converted shipping container is owned by the City of Campbell River and was used by the City of Campbell River as a temporary emergency shelter for the homeless during the winters of 2013-14 and 2014-15.

The Cowichan Valley Citizen reported on this Motion on 7 September 2018, prior the the Committee of the Whole meeting on 1 October 2018. The Cowichan Valley Citizen reported on 3 October 2018 about the defeat of this Motion by Duncan Committee of the Whole.

If I had been on the Duncan Committee of the Whole, I would have voted against this Motion. My reasons are explained below:

The Motion read as follows:

“New Business

6.1  Notice of Motion – Councillor Bruce

That staff be directed to contact Municipality of North Cowichan, Cowichan Valley Regional District and Cowichan Tribes with an invitation to help acquire a Mobile Shelter to help those most vulnerable;

And That staff be directed to contact Campbell River and buy, rent or borrow their extra mobile shelter and have it transported to the Valley immediately;

And That, if funds are needed, the City will allocate up to $10,000 at this time;

And That, with the permission of the United Church, the mobile shelter will be located in the Duncan United Church parking lot and run by the United Church until a suitable location can be determined.”

The photo below shows what this converted shipping container looked like in Campbell River in 2013.

This photo of a shipping container converted into temporary shelter was published in the the Campbell River Mirror in September 2013. Campbell River used this converted container as a temporary emergency shelter. (photo: Campbell River Mirror)
This photo of a shipping container converted into temporary shelter was published in the the Campbell River Mirror in September 2013. Campbell River used this converted container as a temporary emergency shelter. (photo: Campbell River Mirror)

Here are some Campbell River Mirror articles about Campbell River’s experience with these shipping containers converted into shelters:

Discussion of this Motion at the Duncan Committee of the Whole meeting on 1 October 2018 included the following:

  • City of Duncan CAO Peter de Verteuil advised the Committee that this converted container unit was in disrepair and would require an estimated $30,000 worth of repairs to be put into serviceable condition.;
  • Councillor Roger Bruce said this container would only be a temporary solution and that these containers are used to house loggers and miners in B.C. logging and mining camps [Note: I don’t think Councillor Bruce has been anywhere near a logging or mining camp recently if he thinks this converted shipping container is typical of camp accommodation for BC loggers and miners.]
  • Mayor Phil Kent said this unit was definitely not typical of accommodation used in BC Logging and mining camps, as Councillor Bruce had stated. {note: Mayor Kent is correct is saying that]. Mayor Kent also wanted to know more about the history of Campbell River’s experiences with this unit, noting that the City of Campbell River is not using the unit as shelter at this time;
  • Duncan United Church Minister Keith Simmonds addressed the meeting saying that Duncan United Church is not able to accommodate this container being placed on its grounds. Rev. Simmonds said the Duncan United Church does not have shower facilities or sufficient washrooms facilities to accommodate this unit being placed on its grounds and that Duncan United Church Community Outreach facilities are already stretched to their limit and Duncan United Church does not have the resources to handle this unit being placed on its grounds. Rev. Simmonds also highlighted the current condition of this converted container, saying the towing hitch was broken and the interior was contaminated with mould. Rev. Simmonds was also concerned that residents living near Duncan United Church would not react favourably to this proposal, which would negatively affect the good relationship Duncan United Church has with its neighbours.
  •  Duncan United Church Minister Keith Simmonds also noted that BC Housing is not happy with the idea of housing people in converted shipping containers.
  • Three other members of the public, including one person who is currently homeless, addressed the meeting; their comments were unanimously against this Motion.

This Motion was defeated on a vote by the Committee of the Whole. I agree with the Committee’s decision.

My comments: this Motion was not adequately researched before being presented.

  • The Cowichan Valley Citizen reported on 7 September 2018 that the Motion suggested the unit be placed in the parking lot of Duncan United Church. Yet Duncan United Church Minister Keith Simmonds attended the Committee of the Whole meeting on 1 October 2018 and stated that Duncan United Church was not equipped to handle this and did not have the resources to do it. Wasn’t Reverend Simmonds contacted about this Motion by Councillor Bruce before the Motion was presented? It seems not;
  • The Campbell River Mirror has stated in various prior articles that this unit cost $10,000 per month in staffing costs. There is nothing in the Motion which addresses the costs of staffing this unit;
  • City of Duncan staff reported that the unit was currently inoperable and required approximately $30,000 worth of work to make it serviceable. Could this fact not have been determined by a simple phone call to the City of Campbell River prior to the Notice of Motion being presented on 7 September 2018, let alone prior to the Committee of the Whole meeting on 1 October 2018.

In short, I think this Motion was ill considered and inadequately researched prior to being presented. The need for a temporary emergency shelter is well known. This Motion did nothing to address this pressing problem; instead it presented a completely unviable and unworkable proposal which simply diverted resources and attention away from other potentially viable and workable solutions.

 

Mark Anderson – candidate for City of Duncan Council – 3 October 2018

2 thoughts on “Motion Proposing Shipping Containers As Emergency Shelters Rejected At Duncan Committee Of The Whole – 1 October 2018

  1. Hi Mark, before I comment on this notice of motion from councillor Bruce, I would like to commend you for you interest in Council, you have attended Council meetings to gain knowledge of issues on the Council table.
    Now, this motion seems to have been a “red herring” Councillor Bruce has known these trailers were not available long before he put this notice of motion forward.
    I believe my notice of motion to actually start some positive steps to get some housing built in Duncan can be supported by Council and willl start some shovels in the ground for supportive housing, thru the BC Housing program
    I don’t support the referendum for a new Homelessness/Housing tax as a land donation doesn’t require another level of bureaucracy with up to 30% administration costs, The CVRD should just donate some land to the BC Housing program

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