I'm sure by now most have heard about our eviction from the parking lot of Queens Manor. It kind of came out of no where like a lightning strike. Up to a couple of Sundays ago we had heard nothing. In the five or more years that we have visited the space we had the occasional grumbling from the gentleman that owned the building beside Queens Manor. But certainly we had not heard of any complaints from Victoria Cool Aid Society which manages Queens Manor. Then ttwo Sundays ago we heard of complaints from Joanne who works at the desk in Queens Manor, from Jordans Interiors who occupy the corner across the street. Then the next day we recieved an email from Coretta Peets from Victoria Cool Aid Society Housing...
My name is Coretta and I am a Housing Coordinator for the Victoria Cool Aid Society. First of all, I want to thank you for all your good service around Victoria. I know that many of our residents look forward to seeing you each week.
A few years ago when we first opened the building at 710 Queens, our Housing Management Team decided to invite you to have 710 Queens be one of your stops. Unfortunately, we are now getting a lot of complaints about folks hanging around who don't live in the building, and the amount of debris left when it is over. We do send out one of our residents to clean up, but it is getting a little beyond our ability to manage.
It is true that we do like to keep our buildings low profile in the neighbourhood. In addition to it helping us be a good neighbour, we also count on our reputation as managing buildings for hard to house folks in a way that respects the community they are in. Given our current situation, I would like to respectfully request that the Sunday eveningCARTS take 710 Queens off of their route.
Victoria Cool Aid Society
I don't think the garbage in the parking lot from CARTS was an issue, as most volunteers can attest to. We tried to be diligent in cleaning up after our stay. One can assume its the tension that has always existed in the city, the friction between poverty and local business. It's easy to get polarized and just see it from a perspective of the marginalized. Both occupy the same neighborhood and some how have to work together. Easier said than done.
Over the past week and a half I have had numerous conversations with both the manger of Jordans Interiors, and Victoria Cool Aid Society. I had great hope that we might have been able to reach some kind of compromise, and worked together so that CARTS could continue in the parking lot at Queens Manor. With Jordans Interiors have a huge investment in the neighborhood they were not willing to move in their decision, and I'm sure it was also effected the Victoria Cool Aid decision. So Sunday, September 27th will be CARTS last visit to the parking lot.
I cannot make Victoria Cool Aid Society out to be the bad guy, they still continue to try and help us out with a location, although not in the area of Queens Manor. **** more to follow ***
I have also been talking to Alan Lingwood, enterm CEO of The Mustard Seed. The hope is that we could use the parking lot of the Mustard Seed and the Food Bank. Alan was having a board meeting today to address our request. But as of yet, I haven't heard back. I am a little skeptical that it might happen because of what has happened in the area for the past year or so. People might recall how busy the area was a couple of years ago when the Mustard Seed was serving meals on the weekend, had drop in during the day, giving out clothing, they are no longer doing any of these out reach other than the occasional family meal. Now, mainly an inner city church and food bank. Also, the needle exchange van was in the area. So, it all most seems there is an intentional purging of the area, to keep it as social housing and eliminating any risky influence.
So we will wait to hear what the Mustard Seed response will be. From the paragraph above *** more to follow ***. Coretta Peets from Victoria Cool Aid Society has offered this as an option.
A couple of things Cool Aid will still be taking forward:
· If you think that your services could use another stop in the city, we would like to offer our Downtown Community Centre courtyard for your use. I know this isn’t in the same neighbourhood, but it is next to the site of our seasonal shelter that will be opening in November. As well, we anticipate that the Our Place seasonal shelter will be close by. It’s a space with plantings, a tent for when it rains, and a gazebo.
· We are bringing forward at the meeting that we as a community should find a place together that will work for CARTS to be. You should not have to leave the community as a whole.
So this is a possibility that does offer CARTS some options; we could merge into one central location and maybe spend a couple of ours giving more opportunity to engage the marginalized in the inner city. It would eliminate the problems we've had of moving in Centennial Square when events are being held. And, certainly there is no risk of facing another eviction here. The thing that really as to be taken to account is will we loose contact with the folks from Queens Manor.
The last possible location is on Princess Street in the area of where the needle excahnge van used to be. Notably there is hardly any business on the street, there is a huge fenced in vacant lot on one side of the street. The likelihood of people congregating in this area after we leave would be very slim. The downside is it is very exposed in bad weather. Klaas and Alice our dear friends from Crofton that come down every week have 3 canopy-type tents that are easy to put us that would cover an area of about 30'. This will certainly mean more work for an already slim cast of volunteers.
So that's where were at to date. It's not all bad news. I have also talked to two youth group leaders from The Christian Reformed Church, and Christ Community Church that have expressed interest in joining CARTS on Sunday.
Again, thanks for you patience in reading this lengthy email. But, most of all I thank each one of you for your interest in CARTS, for volunteering, for your support, and for your prayers.
Stay tuned, our last Sunday as Queens Manor is this Sunday...so there will be some etched in stone details coming soon.
In the radical, scandalous unending Love, and redemptive imagination of Jesus,
Blessings Ron Cole ( enterm president CARTS )
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