In response to the lack of public washrooms downtown, Prince George is implementing two pilot projects which will not only provide public washroom access, but also storage services for the homeless.
The city has partnered with B.C. Housing, the Prince George Native Friendship Centre (PGNFC) and Advocating for Women and Community (AWAC) to implement the pilot projects in the downtown area.
In a report, which will be reviewed by council at tonight’s meeting (Oct. 7), the city says, “maintaining public washroom access in a way that ensures the health and safety of all requires onsite monitoring of use, so the city has developed partnerships to enable the piloting of two supervised service sites.”
The first pilot project at 181 Quebec St.
The first initiative includes the participation of the City of Prince George, BC Housing, and the PGNFC.
The partners are providing a one-year pilot project downtown for public washroom access, storage services for the homeless and dedicated outreach workers to help connect those living on the street with available housing and support services.
B.C. Housing is funding the placement of washrooms at the 181 Quebec St. site and is providing a grant to cover monthly lease payments as well as the cost of two dedicated outreach workers.
While the city is providing funding to assist with operational costs as well as the placement of a full-time site coordinator.
“The PGNFC brings significant expertise and experience working with vulnerable populations to the project, as well as an array of diverse and culturally responsive services tailored to address the needs of individuals living on the streets,” reads the report.
The site is currently open Monday through Saturday but operating hours to best suit the needs of those accessing site services are still under review.
The current schedule is structured to test a range of hours between 8 a.m. and 7 p.m.
The personal storage program also has policies established that determine storage limitations and prohibited items like illegal drugs, explosives and perishable items.
Those using the service have to agree to the terms of the storage program and are required to provide intake information which will enable analysis related to client profiles, barriers to housing and referral networks.
Since its opening on Friday, Sept. 6, the city says the service has been well utilized and appreciated by clients, service providers and the RCMP.
The second pilot project at 144 George St.
The second pilot project involves a partnership between the city and AWAC.
This will enable co-ed access to storage, bathrooms, laundry, showers, as well as complementary services and supports at AWAC’s 144 George St. site.
The pilot concept was informed by a community planning process, facilitated by the Community Partners Addressing Homelessness and will run from October 2019 to April 2020.
The city is providing funding to assist with operating costs, including staffing.
AWAC is opening the main floor of its operation from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. seven days per week to provide monitored access to the range of services and supports.
The city says the organization is well-positioned to build on its experience working with homeless, addicted and otherwise severely marginalized members of the community.
The report will be presented tonight by Chris Bone, the city's associate director of strategic initiatives and partnerships.