Thursday, February 29, 2024
February 29, 2024

Viewpoint: Retreat and rescue provides vital service

The following was sent to Premier David Eby, Minister of Housing Ravi Kahlon and media outlets, including the Driftwood.

By OLGA MCGILL  

We need urgent help. 

I am writing in support of Jaime Halan-Harris, the owner of the Salty Dog Retreat and rescue service. 

The Salt Spring Island Local Trust Committee held a temporary use permit (TUP) hearing on Nov. 16, without Jaime or her supporters present, and denied her TUP. It means to close the kennel business and send single moms with young children and youth who were homeless before onto the street — right before Christmas. 

Jaime is allowed to bring a delegation and speak at the next meeting, as well as hand in support letters and have supporters speak at the meeting.  

The kennel is not just a kennel. Jaime has taken lost dogs and rescues into her care for almost six years now, at no cost to the community and with no funding. It is all out of pocket. She cares for dogs brought to her by the RCMP, Capital Regional District, Islanders Working Against Violence, the vets, ambulance and hospital personnel, and many COVID pups (all about two or two and a half years old) have been surrendered.

The kennel is also a vocational rehab program and provides therapy for youth who were homeless, many of whom are on the spectrum and/or have mental health diagnoses. She specializes in helping those with autism and trauma/mental health diagnoses, and previously ran a successful vocational rehab program through Community Services, as well as the Yellow Sub mental health program. Jaime’s existing program offers them food, housing and support. There are three single parents (one on the spectrum), with a total of five children aged nine months to eight years. One was evicted from her housing due to her son (who is on the spectrum) having meltdowns. So, no support for her, and she will be sent out in the cold with a baby, a four-year-old and her autistic eight-year-old. Can we help these vulnerable people stay in an RV on the property? 

The kennel is a vital community service that has been offered free for years, and the housing and vocational rehab are vital to the youth and families who are homeless. Jaime is in the process of registering as a charity so she can get funding support, all for the goal of reducing homelessness and providing support to those in need.  

Please be present at the meeting with the Salt Spring Island Local Trust Committee on Thursday, Dec. 14 at 9:30 a.m. at SD64 Learning Hub at 122 Rainbow Rd. We need your help and support. 

The writer uses the dog-boarding services of Salty Dog Retreat.

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1 COMMENT

  1. It is so deeply disturbing that people can’t have a place to put their trailer, even if they have a porta potty or a proper outhouse. I know of a person who has been kicked off the land of property owners who have supplied a place for the trailer and is an asset to the owner only to be removed 4 times. One finally gets a trailer as a home and no place the CRD lets you put it. People don’t want them parking on the streets as there is no bathroom facilities..
    The people I know in this situation are not new to the island and are workers here. We need our workers, there are so many jobs available, yet not enough workers, even for the hospital and care homes. Somethings have to change, we cannot keep ousting our workers out. I really feel we need to change the laws on this island. I’ve lived here almos 50 years and when I owned a 5 acre property and there was a empty cabin with a two seater composting toilet, we had to jump hoops and tell lies to let someone live there. Just plain stupid. I’m totally aware of environmental impacts, making sure that all products that were used on the property were environmentally friendly.

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