British Columbia

Army & Navy building to become homeless shelter as B.C. announces 120 new beds

The province says two new temporary shelters for up to 120 people will open in Vancouver this April - one location is the former home of department store Army & Navy.

2nd shelter location in Vancouver on Terminal Ave. to get $1.8 million renovation

The former Army & Navy department story at 15-27 West Hastings St. will open as a 60-bed shelter in April. (Ben Nelms/CBC)

In an effort to decamp the tent city in Vancouver's Strathcona Park, the province has announced the opening of two temporary shelters in April. 

"These new shelter spaces will provide 120 people with a bed and supports to help them stay safe, warm, fed and alive, while we continue to work with our partners to open permanent supportive housing across the city," said Attorney General David Eby in a media release.

The former home of Vancouver's iconic Army & Navy department store is now co-leased by B.C. Housing and the city and will be renovated to create a 60-bed shelter at 15-27 West Hastings St.  A media representative with the city said they were unable to provide a cost estimate for the renovations at this time.

An industrial property at 875 Terminal Ave., which is owned by the City of Vancouver will get a $1.8 million renovation funded by the federal government's homelessness initiative called Reaching Home, adding an additional 60 beds.

Residents at both locations will have 24-hour access to support services.

"COVID-19 has had a significant impact on our most marginalized neighbours, and collective action is needed to address the critical needs of people experiencing homelessness in Vancouver," said Mayor Kennedy Stewart. 

Park residents told to vacate

In an effort to return the west side of Strathcona Park back to the community, the Vancouver Park Board notified approximately 12 residents of a homeless encampment  last week they must vacate by Wednesday. 

A new two metre fence was erected to separate the larger section of the encampment, which houses approximately 200 campers, from the rest of the park.

In December, the park board said once indoor space had been secured for the encampment's residents, the board would move to enforce the city's no-camping bylaw.

At that time, plans were underway to use the Jericho Hostel in West Point Grey and the 2400 Motel on Kingsway as temporary indoor spaces to shelter those living in the park. Monday's announcement made no mention of any upcoming plans for those two locations.

In January, Eby said the province plans to have enough indoor spaces for campers to relocate by the end of April, adding that hundreds of units of supported housing should be available in 12 to 24 months.

Approximately 100 temporary supportive homes are set to open this summer and 350 more homes are being proposed in multiple locations throughout the city, according to the release.

The province has opened 1,000 new supportive housing homes since 2017.

The Army & Navy's footprint seen from the corner of West Hastings Street and Carrall Street in Vancouver in 1966. Last May, the company announced it was closing its five locations after 101 years in business. (Army & Navy)

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