Saanich – Mount Tolmie Hospital

An illustration of a building, with a large "shelter sign," in the midst of a bustling neighbourhood.


Supported by BC Housing, PHS Community Services Society operate a temporary shelter with approximately 42 beds for people experiencing homelessness in Mount Tolmie Hospital at 3690 Richmond Road in Saanich.

Mount Tolmie Hospital provides a safe and secure place to stay for the people who were living at the Save-On-Foods Memorial Centre Emergency Response Centre when it closed in June 2021.

Relocation

People living at the Save-On-Foods Memorial Centre arena were relocated to Mount Tolmie Hospital and other housing sites in June 2021 when our lease expired at that location. To prevent anyone to be displaced and ending up on the streets again BC Housing entered into a lease to use Mount Tolmie Hospital as an emergency shelter. PHS Community Services Society, an experienced non-profit operator, had been operating the shelter at the Save-On-Foods Memorial Centre arena and continue to operate the shelter at Mount Tolmie Hospital. This continuity of staffing minimized disruption to the existing shelter guests, many of whom have been living together for some time without issue and had developed a strong sense of community.

Temporary shelter

Due to the high number of people experiencing homelessness, existing shelters are at or near capacity on a nightly basis. COVID-19 pandemic has put an increased strain on shelters with them having to lower capacity limits. The site is being used as a temporary supported shelter, while permanent supportive housing is being developed in the Capital region.

Originally opened in June 2021, BC Housing entered into a lease with Island Health to operate Mount Tolmie Hospital as a shelter until end of that year. In December 2021, this lease was extended until Dec 31, 2022. Mount Tolmie Hospital currently provides vital emergency shelter. The future of the site is yet to be determined.

PHS Community Services Society

PHS Community Services Society operate the building and provide support services including daily meals, access to sanitary and hygiene facilities, and storage for belongings. PHS staff also provide residents with access and referral to health and wellness programs. Typically, a shelter of this type would provide:

  • 24/7 staffing
  • Onsite meals
  • Access to laundry services, storage space and fenced outdoor space
  • Proper hygiene facilities (shower and bathrooms)
  • Sleeping pods that include a bed, mattress, side table and privacy walls for ease of cleaning and to reduce the spread of COVID, as well as being a more respectful way to provide shelter space
  • Some residents have their own room, and some share a room
  • Space for other service providers, like Island Heath, MSDPR, etc. to come in and provide services
  • Harm reduction supplies and support for shelter guests

Managing more than 1,500 units across both Victoria and Vancouver, PHS offers a wide range of supportive housing, made possible by wraparound medical and personal supports. BC Housing has a strong historical relationship with PHS and is glad to be partnering with the PHS team again.

Community Engagement

BC Housing wants to be a good neighbour and provide useful information about this shelter to the community. On the right side of this page, you will find a printable factsheet and a who to call sheet which provides useful numbers, including a direct line to the shelter, and guidance on when to use them.

We welcome questions and comments below in the Q&A or by email to: communityrelations@bchousing.org


Supported by BC Housing, PHS Community Services Society operate a temporary shelter with approximately 42 beds for people experiencing homelessness in Mount Tolmie Hospital at 3690 Richmond Road in Saanich.

Mount Tolmie Hospital provides a safe and secure place to stay for the people who were living at the Save-On-Foods Memorial Centre Emergency Response Centre when it closed in June 2021.

Relocation

People living at the Save-On-Foods Memorial Centre arena were relocated to Mount Tolmie Hospital and other housing sites in June 2021 when our lease expired at that location. To prevent anyone to be displaced and ending up on the streets again BC Housing entered into a lease to use Mount Tolmie Hospital as an emergency shelter. PHS Community Services Society, an experienced non-profit operator, had been operating the shelter at the Save-On-Foods Memorial Centre arena and continue to operate the shelter at Mount Tolmie Hospital. This continuity of staffing minimized disruption to the existing shelter guests, many of whom have been living together for some time without issue and had developed a strong sense of community.

Temporary shelter

Due to the high number of people experiencing homelessness, existing shelters are at or near capacity on a nightly basis. COVID-19 pandemic has put an increased strain on shelters with them having to lower capacity limits. The site is being used as a temporary supported shelter, while permanent supportive housing is being developed in the Capital region.

Originally opened in June 2021, BC Housing entered into a lease with Island Health to operate Mount Tolmie Hospital as a shelter until end of that year. In December 2021, this lease was extended until Dec 31, 2022. Mount Tolmie Hospital currently provides vital emergency shelter. The future of the site is yet to be determined.

PHS Community Services Society

PHS Community Services Society operate the building and provide support services including daily meals, access to sanitary and hygiene facilities, and storage for belongings. PHS staff also provide residents with access and referral to health and wellness programs. Typically, a shelter of this type would provide:

  • 24/7 staffing
  • Onsite meals
  • Access to laundry services, storage space and fenced outdoor space
  • Proper hygiene facilities (shower and bathrooms)
  • Sleeping pods that include a bed, mattress, side table and privacy walls for ease of cleaning and to reduce the spread of COVID, as well as being a more respectful way to provide shelter space
  • Some residents have their own room, and some share a room
  • Space for other service providers, like Island Heath, MSDPR, etc. to come in and provide services
  • Harm reduction supplies and support for shelter guests

Managing more than 1,500 units across both Victoria and Vancouver, PHS offers a wide range of supportive housing, made possible by wraparound medical and personal supports. BC Housing has a strong historical relationship with PHS and is glad to be partnering with the PHS team again.

Community Engagement

BC Housing wants to be a good neighbour and provide useful information about this shelter to the community. On the right side of this page, you will find a printable factsheet and a who to call sheet which provides useful numbers, including a direct line to the shelter, and guidance on when to use them.

We welcome questions and comments below in the Q&A or by email to: communityrelations@bchousing.org

Have a question or comment? Please add below.

Guidelines for constructive and respectful dialogue

  • Please ensure your question is clear, concise, relevant to the project, and respectful.
  • Review our moderation policy. Questions that do not abide by the moderation policy or guidelines for respectful dialogue may not be answered.
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  • Does Mount Tolmie has security personnel like the other shelters? if so will they also patrol the community? Police isn't always answering calls for strange people going thru my property.

    Sam Lockh asked 7 months ago

    Thank you for your inquiry, Sam. BC Housing installed a full suite of security cameras at Mt. Tolmie hospital, giving PHS Community Services Society staff (the building operator) the ability to monitor the areas outside of the building from the inside. PHS staff are on site 24/7 and there are security patrols around the neighbourhood throughout the night.

  • How can residents in the Mt Tolmie / Gordon Head neighbourhood welcome these new residents - especially at a time when there is some push back and negativity about such relocations (NIMBY). I think it is very appropriate for homeless populations be supported throughout the Capital region. Mt Tolmie seems like a very appropriate location and use of that building. Such a shame that Oak Bay didn’t provide a similar solution when the lodge was no longer being used for seniors.

    Sheila asked about 1 year ago

    Hi Sheila.

    Thank you for your support.

    The best way to welcome these residents is to talk with your neighbours about the importance of shelter for everyone. People across the province are struggling to find stable housing in their communities right now, and subsequently struggling to stabilize their lives. 

    People who experience homelessness are as varied as any other neighbour. They may be seniors, people with disabilities, people who have employment but no housing, people who are working through mental health concerns and/or substance use. 

    Individuals who are without homes are often only able to focus on basic survival needs. By sheltering people, we increase the likelihood they will succeed in stabilizing their lives. Once someone is housed, they are able to focus on improving their well-being.

    No one deserves to be homeless, and shelter is a basic human right.

  • Further to the question shown below regarding use of Mount Tolmie Hospital until the end of the year, will there be further negotiation to extend use for this purpose? What are the goals for usage of this building in the future?

    Katherine asked about 1 year ago

    The future use of Mount Tolmie Hospital is yet to be determined. Our immediate focus is ensuring people who were previously living in the Save-on-Foods arena have safe, secure and supportive housing for the immediate future. 

    The long-term goal for those living in this temporary shelter is to secure suitable permanent supportive housing in the Capital region, before the end of the year.

    The province recently announced it was creating more than 280 new spaces in the Capital region. Including these supportive homes, B.C. now has more than 3,200 homes either completed or underway in the CRD.

  • I would like to make some muffins to welcome the new Mount Tolmie residents to the neighbourhood if that would be acceptable. If so, please let me know how many people will be moving in on Monday.

    Deborah asked about 1 year ago

    Hi Deborah, 

    What an incredibly kind gesture—thank you for interest in welcoming the new residents. Feeling part of the community is important to creating success for the residents and the neighbourhood. 

    We are anticipating about 20 shelter guests will be moving into the site over the coming few days, and there will be a rotating staff of about 5-7 people.

  • Hello, I am wondering if we can welcome our new neighbors by adding this to Saanich's OCP. If we are serious about housing vulnerable people in our neighborhood then we need to offer local supports in the immediate area via the Official Community Plan.

    Paul asked about 1 year ago

    That’s a great suggestion and we will pass it along.

  • Are any of the residents being moved to the Tolmie site active intravenous drug users? If so, will BC housing be providing sharp disposal and safe injection sites to prevent used needles from ending up in the community?

    Graeme asked about 1 year ago

    Residents may make personal choices regarding their consumption habits.  

    BC Housing follows the widely recognized and proven Housing First model. A harm reduction approach means staff are available to support any residents who are in various phases of substance use.  

    In order to help people who use substances, we need to first give them a safe and secure place to sleep, food to eat, and access to services so that they can move forward with their lives.

    There will be space for other service providers, like Island Heath, MSDPR, etc. to come in and provide services, and also harm reduction supplies and support within the shelter.  

    Both staff and guests would be committed to keeping the direct area surrounding the property maintained, just as any other responsible neighbour.

  • Have any of the residents moving to the Tolmie site been convicted of violent crime(s) or property offenses?

    Graeme asked about 1 year ago

    We believe everyone deserves safe, secure housing, and while we do not discriminate against people based on their past experiences with the criminal justice system, we have no tolerance for acts of violence either by or against residents living in supportive housing.

  • Will any modifications to the grounds be made to redirect people from short-cutting through the adjacent carpark for residents living at 1680 Poplar Avenue? There is presently a paved laneway which connects the 1680 Poplar carpark to Melfort Lane. It is congested (confined, narrow) laneway and frequently sees two-way vehicular traffic. For improved safety, perhaps this laneway should be fenced to limit the potential of car and pedestrian interaction. Residents of 1680 Poplar Avenue have a very viable principle entrance to their car park fully accessible from Poplar Avenue.

    BrentZeitz asked about 1 year ago

    Please direct any questions about the roads around the building to the District of Saanich Engineering Department.


  • Will homeowners in the immediate area qualify for a reduction in their property taxes?

    David James asked about 1 year ago

    BC Housing does not have a say in municipal taxation rates. However, research has found that property values in the immediate area surrounding supportive housing or shelter sites typically either mirrored or surpassed similar housing in the surrounding municipalities. This suggests the introduction of non-market housing, such as supportive or affordable rental housing, does not affect residential property values.

  • When will more permanent housing be available in Victoria because I am currently staying at Muncy Place and I have never experienced more aggressive and harsh homeless people in my life to the point where I contimplate leaving on a daily basis and some of the staff are to motivated to do anything to help out either talk about patronizing and condescending

    pcpartsjunky@gmail.com asked about 1 year ago

    We know there is an urgent need for more permanent affordable housing in the region. That’s why BC Housing is working on hundreds of supportive housing projects in the Capital region.

    Please contact Applicant Services at 1-800-257-7756 (toll-free) to discuss a housing application.

Page last updated: 28 Jan 2022, 02:04 PM