- The Squamish Helping Hands Society hopes to move its night time shelter to Wilson Crescent in Dentville this August or September.
- The move is opposed by Wilson Crescent residents, who fear it will increase crime and traffic in their neighbourhood.
By Gagandeep Ghuman
Published: July 2, 2013
The Squamish Helping Hands Society hopes to move its night time shelter to Wilson Crescent in Dentville this August or September.
The helping hands will continue to serve the food at its Third Ave location, but the place won’t operate as a night time shelter once the shelter moves to Wilson Crescent.
It’s a move that won’t be welcome by all Wilson Crescent residents, at least not by those who turned up for a public meeting on June 17 at the Squamish Helping Hands Society.
This was the second such meeting in the past six months in which some residents have spoken out against the Home Instead shelter being planned on Wilson Crescent.
Some say there was little, if any, consultation with the neighbours on the decision to move the shelter.
“We’ve been railroaded into accepting this,” said Rick King, a Wilson Crescent resident.
Helping Hands received $618,000 in government funding, and little over $10,000 in donations last year. Source: Charities Directorate
Residents like King also fear the move will increase crime and traffic, and negatively affect the reputation of Wilson Crescent and the neighbourhood.
Another resident said with her husband away for work, she is concerned about safety of her children.
Helping hands, meanwhile, has emphasised the need for such a facility, while trying hard to humanise the shelter users as people who are no different than Wilson Crescent residents.
“All of these are normal people, these are not a bunch of crazy people” said Jen Weaver, a worker at the society.
Helping hands director Maureen Mackell encouraged residents to join the neighbourhood committee that would address all concerns on an ongoing basis.
She also reminded the residents assertively that the place had been zoned for a shelter, and it was urgently needed.
Helping Hands feeds more than 50 people every day at their current location.
At night, the tables are moved around to create space for people to sleep on the floor.
The new space will relieve the pressure off the present building, Mackell said.
“That building isn’t adequate and we are bursting at the seams,”
The Wilson Crescent home, with seven bedrooms, would ensure separate living quarters for both men and women.
The home, also known as Iris Place, is owned by BC Housing, and is used to provide supportive housing for people with mental health challenges.