Can hotels help solve homelessness?

Good Morning! It’s Morgan again with today’s edition of the Tri-Cities dispatch.

Thanks to all of your hard work, we managed to hit 1,000 subscribers in our first week of operation. I urge you to keep writing to us! I can’t emphasize enough how helpful your feedback really is. Let us know what you’d like to see for the future of the Tri-Cities Dispatch!

People who are homeless are considered to be an at-risk category, and are more likely to experience the negative consequences associated with COVID-19. The Tri-Cities area in particular lacks access to shelters – there is currently only one permanent homeless shelter in Coquitlam. 

  • Mayor Richard Stewart: “It just disappoints me to see the buildings … that are being left empty during a pandemic when we desperately need some space for our homeless population.”

Finding shelter: The City of Vancouver recently purchased a hotel to service people who are homeless. The hotel was purchased using part of the federal $51.5-million rapid housing fund. After renovations are complete, the former Days Inn hotel will have 65 functional housing units. The purchase was announced after news of a shigellosis outbreak was reported amongst people living on the streets on the Downtown Eastside.  

A temporary solution: Last summer, Coquitlam funded a project that expanded a hotel into a temporary homeless shelter. The hotel temporarily housed people who had been ordered to self-isolate because of COVID-19. 

Controversy: The Tri-Cities council has been subject to recent criticism for their lack of shelters and supportive housing, with calls for more emergency housing in the area. If you want to help or need support you can visit the Tri-Cities Housing Task Group’s online web portal.

The Intelligent Community Forum (ICF) has nominated Coquitlam for a smart award. Coquitlam will be competing with communities all over the world to be named the top smart city. Langley and Maple Ridge are also in the running.

Innovation: This year’s criteria is based on the community’s technical efficiency in response to COVID-19. This includes a community’s online outreach: mandating work-from-home environments, facilitating online public schooling, and creating telehealth services.  

Some of the technological innovations Coquitlam has made in response to COVID-19 includes: 

  • Creating an online vaccine booking tool through Fraser Health
  • Upgrading public Wi-Fi service all over the city
  • Developing an online portal to support local businesses
  • Moving recreational programs and city council meetings online

Mapping the future: Coquitlam’s technological roadmap was also praised by ICF committee members. A technological roadmap is a long-term plan for technological innovation. The original map was created in 2018, but modifications were made last year to pivot to a COVID-19 focused approach.

There has been a COVID-19 outbreak at Eagle Ridge Hospital in Port Moody. Ten people have tested positive so far. One unit was affected, but evidence of transmission has been found.

The medical unit in question is currently closed while the emergency room continues to remain opened. 

  • Fraser Health: “Upon declaring the outbreak, Fraser Health immediately implemented precautions, including enhanced cleaning as well as contact tracing to protect the health of all staff, medical staff, and patients”

Staying safe: At this time, Fraser Health hospitals are only open for essential services. To deem whether or not your condition is considered essential you can call public health at 8-1-1 to see if you can be assessed virtually. 

Happening Around Town

  • Taste of the Tri-Cities: from now until March 19 restaurants across the Tri-Cities area are being showcased for a local food festival. Check out our featured restaurant down below. 
  • Life Hacks: This Friday at 1:00 PM the Coquitlam Library will be going live on Facebook to share a few helpful tips on productivity and wellbeing. 
  • Diversity in Books: The first Wednesday of every month at 6:30 PM the Coquitlam Public Library hosts a virtual book club that features works from marginalized authors. This week the club will be talking about the novel Older Sister – Not Necessarily Related by Jenny Heijun Wills. I’ve read this book before – it’s pretty good!
  • Authentically Connecting for Entrepreneurs: This Friday at 9:30 AM Happy Healthy Women is hosting a virtual networking event for women entrepreneurs to connect with each other. Tickets start at $11.62. 
  • Online Cooking Class: This Saturday at 11 AM Port Moody culinary companies Eden West Gourmet and Tartine & Maple will be hosting an online breadmaking class. Learn how to make delicious desserts, bread, buns, and pizza dough! Tickets start at $34.48. 

Local news that matters to you

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Taste of the Tri-Cities: Romer’s Burger Bar

Welcome to our new section where we will be showcasing some of the great restaurants in our community participating in Taste of the Tri-Cities. 

Romer’s Burger Bar is a local chain restaurant that specializes in casual American cuisine. Their menu features a wide array of customizable burgers – my favourite is the Man’s Man burger! 

Discount deal: If you dine in at the Port Moody location you can enjoy a 3-course meal for $30!

PS: They have vegan, gluten free and keto options too!

In Other News

  • Wastewater specialists have detected evidence of COVID-19 in Tri-Cities’ sewage. 
  • Last week we covered a recent spike of wild animal sightings. Over the weekend a cougar cub was spotted in a backyard in Anmore.  
  • The B.C. Coroner’s Service detected a record-high number of overdose deaths for the month of January. 
  • Coquitlam comedian Ed Hill released a new special yesterday. You can watch Candy & Smiley on various streaming services including Apple TV

One More Thing

Glenna Barron lives in Anmore and has a passion for gardening. Barron has recently started a Facebook group for Tri-Cities gardeners to connect virtually. Maybe you’re an expert botanist, or maybe you’re a novice and read our segment on community gardens yesterday. 

Whatever your skill level is, you’ll likely find something for you on the Tri-Cities Gardeners BC Facebook page. The group features everything from gardening tips to funny memes to beautiful art and photography. 

Corrections

Our commitment to you, our readers, is to be as transparent as possible. We make mistakes, but we promise to share them with you. Here are two corrections:

  • The Mundy parkrun is not happening during COVID-19
  • We said the Ioco refinery produced oil but as our reader Stan pointed out, the oil was produced elsewhere, and was instead processed at the facility. Thank you to Stan for pointing that out.
  • We said that the City of Coquitlam was responsible for the temporary hotel housing program when it was actually BC Housing that funded the initiative. 
  • Our recent reporting on Coquitlam’s smart award nomination was a little unclear. The Fraser Health booking tool is a smart technology that is utilized by Coquitlam – the city did not develop this technology. 

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