The Province has extended the lease of the Travelodge until Dec. 31, 2021, in order to ensure its residents are not displaced onto the street or nearby parks.
No new residents will move into the facility after the end of March. All residents will be transitioned to other housing options by the end of this year.
BC Housing leased the Travelodge as a temporary housing solution to shelter people experiencing homelessness during the pandemic. The facility opened in May 2020 to support decampment efforts at Topaz Park and on Pandora Avenue. The Travelodge has 94 residents who are provided supports, such as mental health and addiction services. The lease needed to be extended in order to keep people housed with supports due to a November 2020 fire at the Capital City Centre Hotel that resulted in a reduction of about 90 supportive housing units in Victoria.
“Everyone recognizes the urgent need for safe and secure homes for people experiencing homelessness in Victoria and throughout the Capital Regional District,” said David Eby, Attorney General and Minister Responsible for Housing. “We are making real progress on short- and long-term housing solutions to address Victoria’s encampments by the end of March, and opening new housing will allow us to close the Travelodge by the end of the year. Sending Travelodge residents out to join encampments by closing this temporary facility prematurely is simply not an option. Instead, our plan is that the residents of the Travelodge will be out of this temporary accommodation by the end of the year and into permanent, supportive units.”
Lisa Helps, mayor, City of Victoria, said: “We know this is a difficult decision for everyone. I want to thank the Province for its thoughtful leadership and the Burnside Gorge community for pulling together to help some of the region’s most vulnerable residents through this challenging time. With all the affordable and supportive housing currently under development in the region, I am confident in the Province’s commitment to have the Travelodge closed by Dec. 31.”
BC Housing is working with the Travelodge owner to ensure site improvements are made, including fire safety enhancements, external landscaping and more regular garbage removal. The Victoria Cool Aid Society will continue to operate the Travelodge. The society has staff on site 24/7. BC Housing will continue to engage with the local community, including regular meetings with the community advisory committee and the Burnside Gorge Community Association.
To support the closure of the Travelodge, the Province is working in partnership to deliver permanent supportive homes and rental homes for people experiencing homelessness and those who might be at risk of homelessness. The rental homes will be affordable for people with very low incomes. Nearly 360 of these homes have been completed since 2017, and approximately 340 are under construction or in development in the Capital Regional District.
Parallel to this work, the Province, in partnership with the City of Victoria, Capital Regional District and federal government, continues to develop housing solutions in the region for people who are living outside.
Recently, BC Housing, in partnership with GSL Group and PHS Community Services Society, re-activated the Save-on-Foods Memorial Centre (SOFMC) as a 45-bed temporary shelter. In addition, the Province is partnering with the City of Victoria on its 30-unit Tiny Homes Village at Royal Athletic Park.
The SOFMC is part of a partnership commitment to offer current campers in Victoria indoor spaces by March 31, 2021, in order to close encampments in the city’s parks, including Cecilia Ravine. As these new spaces open, people experiencing homelessness will be offered housing options that meet their needs.
A map showing the location of all announced provincially funded housing projects in B.C. is available online: https://www.bchousing.org/homes-for-BC
To learn about the steps the Province is taking to tackle the housing crisis and deliver affordable homes for British Columbians, visit: https://workingforyou.gov.bc.ca/