Converting shipping containers into livable units for the homeless.

It’s what the WeCanShelter project is all about.

The Rotary Club of Comox and Dawn to Dawn Action on Homelessness Society are spearheading the project to help address the need for supportive housing in the Comox Valley.  

Volunteers plan to convert four of these containers at the Maple Pool Campground & RV Park this year, and to continue into the future.

Each conversion will cost roughly $20,000 per container. 

Each can sleep one to two people and includes a shower, toilet, sink, heat, running hot water, a bedroom area, and a place to put a TV and more living space. There will also be a small kitchen, single induction burner, and a fridge.

The containers are being converted on site by Rotary club members and volunteers. 

Rotary club president Charlene Davis said this is a large undertaking.

“We’re building a house each time we do this and we’re not all house builders so we’re definitely learning as we go,” Davis said. “We’re blessed with having a number of members who have terrific expertise and have given us lots of guidance and assistance.”

Once they’re built, the units are handed over to Dawn to Dawn, which chooses their occupants.

“They will choose who goes into this, they will manage this and the Comox Rotary piece of this is simply to purchase and build, and situated,” Davis said. 

The project’s opening ceremony is Sept. 29 and everyone is invited.

A total of $44,000 has been raised for the project thus far: $14,000 by Women Who Care, $13,000 from the Rotary club, and $11,000 from a Sept. 8 fundraiser at the Roy’s Towne Pub.

There are 125 people counted as homeless in the valley who live without running water, shelter, washrooms and electricity.

A GoFundMe page set up for the project notes that it costs $60,000 per year per homeless person and only $20,000 to fully construct a home for them. 

Rotary club president Charlene Davis said the Maple Pool Campground is a very good location for these units.

“It’s kind of one they’ve chosen,” she said. “It’s close enough to get to services and downtown and that kind of thing. So location-wise, this place is perfect for homeless people.”

Davis describes Maple Pool as a gem in Courtenay.

“How many really beautiful campgrounds do you know of that are in a sort of a semi-downtown area for one thing,” she said. 

“The beauty of this place lies almost 100 percent in the owners of this privately owned campground who have managed it for well over 10 years and spent a great deal of time working with the people who are homeless or next to homeless.”

She said Maple Pool is a place where people can heal from any number of issues including mental health, addiction, or simply bad fortune.