Submitted by Trail Community Action Team
Trail city council has an extremely important decision to make later this month (Sept. 26), a decision that will either result in vital services continuing to be available to our most disadvantaged residents or will see them out in the cold.
A year ago, council agreed to extend the capacity of La Nina shelter from eight beds to 18, for one year.
That permit expires on Sept. 30.
Unless council agrees to extend it, preferably for three years, our city’s only shelter will close.
Diana Daghofer, co-chair of the Trail Community Action Team (TCAT), stresses, “These folks have no other place to go. They have no options. Right now, the shelter is open to serve their needs 24-hours a day. Throwing them onto the streets would only increase concerns in the community.”
While the shelter could continue on its previous permit, with eight beds, Sheila Adcock, the Program Coordinator who manages La Nina, explains, “Even with extended capacity, our shelter is full to overflowing every night with people who have nowhere else to go for a safe bed, decent meals and bathroom facilities. Dropping back down to eight beds would shut out the majority of those seeking a safe refuge. It would put staff in the impossible position of choosing among those in need of shelter and leaving the rest on the streets. The resulting distress would cause unsafe conditions, for staff, those seeking shelter and our community.”
Supportive housing needed
A number of groups in Trail have been working with BC Housing and lobbying the provincial government for years, asking for a supportive housing building that could provide the kinds of services people with mental health and substance use issues need to live stable lives. While BC Housing is supportive, little action has resulted. No location has yet been identified for the building. As such, it will take a minimum of three years to establish supportive housing in Trail.
In the meantime, the shelter provides basic services to an average of 37 people each day – food, shelter and bathroom facilities. Of the 37 people currently being supported, 32 are from Trail, three are from Castlegar, one is from Fruitvale, and one person who has been homeless since childhood, is from Saskatchewan. La Nina serves 1,612 meals a month, and provides people with links to services they need, including “Getting to Home” housing support, mental health and substance use counselling, rental subsidy options, the food bank, local physicians and dentists, and many others.
Adcock recognized, “No one is happy with the current situation. The shelter was never meant to provide the kind of wrap-around services needed by people suffering from mental illness or the harms of drug use. Closing the shelter will only exacerbate the problem. We need to pull together as a community to urge the provincial government to provide the services we need.”
Impact on the broader region
TCAT members also fear that with no available shelter in Trail, people will migrate to other nearby communities. “This is precisely what some residents have falsely charged – that people moved into Trail to take advantage of our social services. It would be irresponsible of Trail city council to cause this very thing to happen – redirecting its housing woes to other communities,” states Daghofer.
She further notes, “Trail is a great community because people care. We look after each other, particularly those who are struggling. The vast majority of people in Trail do not want to see people thrown out on the streets as winter approaches. That’s not the kind of community we are and certainly not what we want to be known for in the province.”
To express your views to Trail city council, please write a message to the mayor and councillors: https://trail.ca/en/inside-city-hall/mayor-and-council.aspx. You can also email BC Housing here: firstname.lastname@example.org or David Eby, Office of the Attorney General and Ministry of Housing here: AG.email@example.com.
The Trail Community Action Team is a non-profit organization that works to reduce harm and improve services for people with lived and living experience of substance use in the Lower Columbia. The team does this through support and advocacy. Questions? Email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
addictionsCity of TrailHomelessnessKootenaysmental healthopioid addiction