John Sherratt, manager of supportive housing for the Victoria Cool Aid Society, stands in a unit on the lower floor of the organization’s newest housing facility, the former Tally Ho Motel on Douglas Street. Don Descoteau/Victoria News

WATCH: New residents settling in to former Tally Ho Motel

Cool Aid providing supportive housing for ex-Choices residents and others

With Choices Transitional Home now closed in View Royal and the majority of its residents moved into the former Tally Ho Motel now being operated as supportive housing by the Victoria Cool Aid Society, the tenants are noticing a real difference.

One resident, who identifies himself as Randy, is among the nearly 40 people who transferred here from Choices.

“It’s way more spacious and way more cleaner,” he says, grabbing a coffee in the lounge/dining area that was once Kitty’s Hideaway. “Everything’s newer here. Just everything is good here, the staff are here for us … It’s like night and day compared to Choices in here, that’s all I can say.”

He is hopeful that his stay here will be a move toward more permanent housing, but he’s taking things a day at a time. “It’s hard to find housing, everybody’s aware of that. But for the best part I’m doing what I’m doing every day and remaining positive.”

The rooms are significantly larger than the one-time youth corrections jail cells at Choices. Some have kitchenettes, others have a microwave, but all are clean with new bedding and have been freshened up since the motel closed. In terms of keeping things clean, residents are left to their own habits, but a client service worker is available to support them in adjusting to living in a larger space.

Another Choices transfer, Trevor, foresees that the facility and its services will help residents gain more stability in their lives. Personally, he calls the move a “big step up” from Choices for features like the individual washrooms, on-premise laundry facilities, the lounge area and of course, the meals.

In taking over and renovating the building, Cool Aid gutted the original bar kitchen on site and created a facility they can be proud of, says head chef and food service co-ordinator Paul Stewart.

“The feedback’s been great,” he says of resident comments. “The food quality is up there, it’s made with care and I think they taste that, so that’s important to us as well.”

The small staff cook breakfast and dinner for 50 people daily. And with a training program getting underway to teach kitchen skills to residents, it’s expected there’ll be help available in putting on the meals.

In terms of the rooms, 45 of the 52 spaces had been filled as of Tuesday, says John Sherratt, manager of supportive housing for Cool Aid.

With three people due to transfer from Mount Edwards Court on Vancouver Street, four rooms will be left. Sherratt doesn’t expect they will remain vacant for long. But it’s not as if there’s a waiting list for the spots, he says, “because waiting indicates time.”

“What we look to more is ‘need,’ and do they fit into the building,” he says.

The ground floor of rooms, accessible only to those with the correct fob, is a “quiet zone.” The area is designed to give people more sensitive to noise and activity a safe space, Sherratt said, and to accommodate those who are working.

Steps away but accessible to all residents is a door leading to the onetime pool and patio area. The pool has been filled in with soil and grass planted, and various plants have been placed around to create a comfortable outdoor space, albeit one looking directly onto the busy Jim Pattison Toyota dealership.

There’s still a few overflowing shopping carts in the parking lot, a sign that some residents may not be quite ready to give up some of the vestiges of their past life.

“Someone first and foremost has to feel secure,” Sherratt explains. “Once someone feels safe and secure, they begin to give up some of the possessions.”

The activities being ramped up here include a ready-to-rent program designed to teach good tenant-landlord relations, a music program and a health protocol with doctors and nurses from Cool Aid’s downtown clinic stopping in regularly.

The temporary use permit granted for the site by the City of Victoria lasts just three years, although Cool Aid has begun working on plans to develop a purpose-built building on the back parking lot. But that time restriction isn’t being emphasized for tenants, Sherratt notes. More important for now, he says, is assuring them they’re in a supported environment and helping tenants feel a part of something.

“One of the primary goals is to build a sense of community.”

editor@vicnews.com

 

A resident relaxes in the TV room/dining lounge area at the Cool Aid housing facility in the former Tally Ho Motel on Douglas Street. Don Descoteau/Victoria News

Senior cook Jodi Rimmer is set to begin preparing a lunch meal in the industrial kitchen at the Cool Aid housing facility in the former Tally Ho Motel on Douglas Street. The consistently good food is one of the best improvements from their previous arrangement at the Choices Transitional Home, say many residents. Don Descoteau/Victoria News

The swimming pool has been filled with soil and had grass planted, to create a safe and pleasant outdoor area for residents at Cool Aid’s renovated housing facility at the former Tally Ho Motel. Don Descoteau/Victoria News

Just Posted

Parents call for change to health laws after Oak Bay teen’s death

Accidental overdose has Elliot Eurchuk’s parents seeking change to B.C Infants Act

Tsawout hosts Saanich Peninsula community leaders at blanket ceremony

Reconciliation event meant to share the Indigenous exerience

Amazing Race Canada kicks off at Hatley Castle

Popular reality TV show will premiere later this year

WATCH:First responders score first, take inaugural Challenge Cup in Oak Bay

Ice hockey game raises funds for Cops for Cancer, encourages positive interaction with youth

LGBTQ advocates turn Victoria SOGI protest into dance party

Counter-protest outnumbers anti-SOGI activists on lawn of B.C. legislature

Judith Guichon steps down as Lieutenant Governor of B.C.

Election decision didn’t make her best moments from the past six years

Vancouver to rake in $30 million in empty homes tax in first year

The tax is the first of its kind in Canada, and was intended to address the city’s near-zero vacancy rate

B.C.’s snowpack continues to increase, melting delayed

River Forecast Centre official says sudden melting further into the season could cause flooding

Another B.C. First Nation voices support for Kinder Morgan pipeline

Simpcw First Nation claims people living on one-third of pipeline route support the project

Scooter crash leaves Island man with critical injuries

RCMP said a truck was making a left-hand turn when it collided with the scooter travelling through the intersection

Prankster broadcasts fake nuclear threat in Winnipeg

The audio recording on Sunday warned of a nuclear attack against Canada and the United States

ICBC reform aims to slow rising car insurance costs

‘Pain and suffering’ payouts to be capped, major injury limit to double

Most Read