An expanded food bank and a homeless shelter have been proposed as parts of a new community support centre for the community.
The proposed centre was presented to Summerland council on Oct. 11.
John Bubb, a member of Summerland United Church, said the centre, proposed for the church basement, would provide a one-stop centre for people in need.
“We’ve been gradually losing programs from Summerland,” he said. “You can only look at what’s happening in our society and you respond to it.”
The proposal would also make better use of the church basement, which has 409 square metres of area.
“It’s under-utilized space,” Bubb said.
A portion of the basement is used for the Summerland Food Bank. Space is also used by some 12-step groups and the Moms’ Morning Out program.
In addition to an expanded area for the food bank, complete with a kitchen facility, the centre would also house a homeless shelter, a meeting room and community offices.
“This proposal addresses a wide view of homelessness,” Bubb said.
Construction on the facility would begin in February, with the work completed and the centre operating by March 2013.
While the full cost of the facility is not yet known, Bubb said extensive work would be needed to add walls, plumbing and electrical services to the basement and to install a wheelchair lift.
The United Church is offering its basement space, at no charge, for the project.
The church has also committed to provide up to $12,000 a year for the operating costs.
The Summerland Food Bank will contribute around $10,000 a year for the centre. NeighbourLink has promised to provide volunteer help to the centre once it is in operation.
Municipal council has given its support to the project from a letter. Council will also provide support for the building, if needed, after March 2013 when the centre is completed.
The municipality’s financial commitment is estimated at $20,000 to $25,000 a year after the facility is in place.
“I think we have a responsibility to take care of those in need,” said Mayor Janice Perrino.
The total costs of operating the centre are estimated at $40,282.80 a year.
The costs include the salary of one full-time equivalent position as well as the costs such as telephone, office supplies, insurance, utilities and more.
The proposal deadline is on Oct. 21.
Perrino said the facility is needed in Summerland.
“I don’t think we’re going to have a huge homelessness issue, but feeding people in need is going to be more of an issue,” she said. “We need to make sure we’re answering all the needs.”