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Our Place Society in Victoria sends strong message by closing drop-in centre for a day

CEO cites need to ‘regroup’ amid rising levels of COVID, mask non-compliance and violent incidents
Our Place Society has seen increased non-compliance towards mask wearing and more violent incidents in the area, amid a backdrop of higher numbers of COVID cases within the community that uses its drop-in centre. (Black Press Media file photo)

The Our Place Society support network drop-in centre on Pandora Avenue is closed today (Sept. 16) in response to rising COVID case numbers, non-compliance towards masks, and violence within the community of people experiencing homelessness.

Although showers and washroom facilities, and takeaway meal service, remain accessible to Our Place clients, the drop-in community space for resting or socializing after accessing those services is closed for the day.

READ ALSO: Our Place Society seeks donations of reusable water bottles during heat wave

Despite the risks, Our Place Society CEO Julian Daly said a number of Our Place clients have recently refused to comply with mask-wearing policies. Additionally, “there’s been, in that area (the 900 block of Pandora Street), an escalation of violent incidents,” he said.

“So we just wanted to send a little message to those that we serve that certain things are not tolerated by us. That’s violence towards others, violence towards staff and non-compliance with mask-wearing during a time of COVID,” he told Black Press Media.

“We’re closing today to regroup a bit.”

While Daly confirmed his knowledge of a current COVID outbreak within the community that uses Our Place, he wasn’t at liberty to speak to the numbers. Black Press Media has reached out to Island Health for more information on the situation, but has not received a response.

But Paul Stevens, who has actively volunteered and been an advocate for those experiencing homelessness over the past six years, estimated there are 50 to 80 positive cases of COVID-19 among residents of housing facilities at Our Place, at 844 Johnson St., Soleil (formerly Paul’s Motor Inn) and the Comfort Inn on Blanshard Street.

READ ALSO: FEBRUARY: ‘Raising the alarm:’ Priority vaccines urged for homeless population, shelter staff

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