After several days of confusion over the state of winter shelters for the homeless, the Stuart Wood shelter will open tonight (Nov. 7, 2022).
The City announced late this afternoon that BC Housing and Out of the Cold have teamed up to get the shelter operational. It will provide beds to 24 individuals, plus some additional seated warming space, from 8 p.m. to 8 a.m. seven days a week.
The Canadian Mental Health Association had been contracted to operated shelters at Stuart Wood and the Yacht Club but backed out, resulting in a scramble to find a new operator.
“The City would like to thank Out of the Cold and BC Housing for their dedication to getting this shelter up and running so quickly,” said Byron McCorkell, the City’s Community and Protective Services Director.
“It’s important for the safety of staff and shelter guests that staff have the appropriate training and resources to meet the needs of the people staying at the shelter, and that doesn’t happen overnight.”
In addition to the winter shelter, ASK Wellness has opened 24/7 warming centres at Spero House and Crossroads Inn to allow people a reprieve from freezing temperatures during this cold snap.
Interior Community Services has also extended the hours of their downtown youth outreach centre. Youth aged 25 years or younger can access the warming centre until 8 p.m. this week.
The warming centres are temporary measures intended to be available throughout this week’s cold snap. The shelter at Stuart Wood will be open until March 31, 2023.
“This community never ceases to amaze me in how they come together,” said McCorkell. “We know all of our front line service workers are tapped out but they continue to step up when lives are on the line.”
RCMP, Community Services Officers, and outreach workers are working proactively and collaboratively to bring people into a warm space and prevent anyone from succumbing to the elements, the City said in a news release.
If you see someone who looks like they could use a hand, please call Community Services at 250-828-3409.