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Church organizes downtown Victoria conference

Government and social services in Victoria will meet with church organizations this fall to improve the city’s downtown core.

From Sept. 10-11 the City-Street-Church conference will bring city leaders together to improve the quality of life for homeless and impoverished Victoria residents.

Sponsored by St. John the Divine Anglican Church, the event will include a Saturday panel discussion featuring stories about the downtown core from police, business and community, with a focus on exiting collaboration.

A Sunday panel will put forth ideas on how local organizations can improve the delivery of programs that are already in place.

The event is part of St. John the Devine’s 150th anniversary celebrations.

“There is potential in Victoria to build on existing relationships between faith communities and civic society and to build a stronger foundation for future work together,” Rev. Harold Munn, rector of St. John the Divine, was quoted in a press release for the event.

Deputy chief of Victoria police John Ducker said he welcomes a wider engagement from community stakeholders like the church around downtown issues.

“Problems, particularly around alcohol, drug addiction and mental disorders are increasing to the degree where policing alone is not able to handle things,” said Ducker.

“We’re looking for extra help, basically.”

The parties attending the conference are already doing a pretty good job at addressing downtown issues, says Kathy Stinson, executive director of the Cool Aid Society, which provides social and health services to Victoria’s most vulnerable.

What Stinson would like to see at the conference is a federal government presence and a commitment of federal dollars to fund housing initiatives.

“The federal government provides very little in the way housing support dollars anymore. There is a very small amount of money that comes through their homelessness partnership initiative, but it’s not nearly enough in the greater scheme of things,” said Stinson.

“For Victoria, we got $1.2 million for two years, I mean, that won’t even build you a single building.”

Justin Langille reports on the landscape of labour and work for The Tyee.

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