British Columbia

Death of homeless man prompts call for more funding on Sunshine Coast

The death of a homeless man on the Sunshine Coast has led to more calls for increased funding for rural areas to better help people living on the streets.

Man dies on night only shelter in region closed

The death of a homeless man in Gibsons B.C. has raised concerns there are not adequate services for vulnerably housed people on the Sunshine Coast. (Google streetview)

The death of a homeless man on the Sunshine Coast has led to more calls for increased funding for rural areas to better help people living on the streets.

The victim — a man in his 50s — was found dead on a park bench in Gibsons the weekend of Nov. 14-15.

He regularly used the shelter in Sechelt — the only one on the Sunshine Coast.

However, the facility was closed on the night he died.

A $40,000 federal grant used to keep the shelter open had run out, allowing it to only open during extreme weather.

"When we heard the news, all of our volunteers and workers of the shelter were really shocked and saddened ... because he's been someone who is very dear to us," said Clarence Li, the rector at St. Hilda's By the Sea Anglican church.

Reverend Clarence Li, the rector at St. Hilda's Anglican Church says rural communities in B.C. struggle to serve homeless people. (www.sthilda.ca)

Li says the tragedy highlights the lack of funding to provide emergency shelter and affordable housing on the Sunshine Coast, a sentiment shared by Gibsons Mayor Wayne Rowe.

"This is a problem that is pervasive throughout our province and lots of other communities are dealing with it," he said.

The Comox Valley is holding a referendum on a tax increase to fund more services for the homeless, and there is a hope the new federal Liberal government will provide more assistance for rural areas.

"How can a rural community build a sustainable program to serve those who are homeless from time to time?" said Li.

On Nov.12 the provincial government announced $1.6 million to fund 1,200 temporary extreme weather shelter spaces this winter across B.C.
 

with files from the CBC's Megan Thomas

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