Additional shelter spaces open as Metro Vancouver faces cold snap
Severe weather shelters have opened in parts of British Columbia as a cold spell blankets much of the province in sub-zero temperatures.
Staff at the Union Gospel Mission in Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside said they were restocking the shelves with boots, jackets and other warm clothing.
“We also know that when the temperature drops, the need increases,” said Union Gospel Mission’s Nicole Mucci. “So with the weather continuing to be cold for the next few days, we expect our shelter to be completely full.”
The center reached its maximum capacity on Monday evening, with the 96 beds taken into account.
He will send a mobile team on Tuesday evening to distribute clothes and blankets to those spending the night on the streets and to offer routes to people wishing to go to places with available space.
The City of Vancouver says 114 additional shelter beds and another 101 warming center spaces are available.
⚠️Warming centers are open tonight with additional shelter space – we encourage anyone sleeping outdoors to enter one of the centers listed below. Hot drinks and snacks are available. Please share.
Details ⬇️ pic.twitter.com/2AoUMMqRu1
Warming centers are also open in Victoria.
❄Due to extreme weather conditions, the City will be opening a Day Warming Center from noon to 8 p.m. today and from 8:30 a.m. to 8 p.m. tomorrow, February 23, at James Bay United Church at 511, Michigan Street. Well behaved pets allowed and snacks provided. This space is wheelchair accessible. pic.twitter.com/Bwfe2b6nAx
Bruk Melles of the City of Vancouver says the city has already opened emergency warming centers more days this year than last.
City warming centers, unlike shelters, do not offer access to a mat or bed, but can provide respite from the elements overnight, staff say.
Proponents say that while there is an immediate need for these emergency spaces, they do not replace the need for long-term solutions
“A lot of people are homeless so we really need to get them into proper accommodation – safe, clean – so they don’t have to sleep rough like this,” said Sarah Blyth, executive director. of the Overdose Prevention Society.
Environment Canada has issued a special weather statement indicating that Metro Vancouver, the Fraser Valley and Howe Sound are expected to experience unusually cold temperatures and strong winds that could bring wind chill values close to -10 C to -15 C Tuesday evening and Wednesday evening. Daytime temperatures will be moderate, but below seasonal norms.
Temperatures are expected to rise from Thursday.