The city is getting a second extreme weather shelter in order to better serve the needs of unhoused people in North Delta.
On Monday (Nov. 22), Delta council received a report on Delta’s response to homelessness and the opening of an extreme weather shelter in North Delta.
The city’s first such shelter — located at Ladner United Church, funded by BC Housing and operated by Options Community Services — opened its doors in 2017 and has served dozens of people every November through March, offering a warm and dry place to sleep as well as breakfast, coffee, showers and laundry services.
When, and where, a similar facility would open to serve North Delta’s homeless population has been a topic of discussion ever since.
Noting that North Delta has more than double the population of South Delta but no emergency shelter facilities, the report states that unhoused people in the area have had to travel to facilities in Surrey, Richmond or Vancouver to find shelter during extreme weather events.
That’s set to change in the coming weeks with the opening of a new extreme weather shelter at New Hope Church (11838 88th Avenue). The facility, which will be operated by the Surrey-based Phoenix Society, is tentatively scheduled to open on Dec. 1 with space for 15 guests under COVID-19 public health restrictions.
Phoenix Society currently operates Little House Alcohol and Drug Addiction Recovery Society’s Tsawwassen facility following the merger of the two organizations in May of this year.
According to the report, the leadership team at New Hope Church has committed considerable effort and funding to ensure the building can safely accommodate the shelter this winter, including installing a sidewalk and adjusting the use of space inside the church to accommodate pre-existing uses including a daycare.
The city has been asked to help support onsite safety by committing to snow removal in the church parking lot, the repair of a city-owned service pole and light in said parking lot (which the report states has already been completed), and the purchase and installation of a scissor gate to separate program areas inside the building.
The city had provided start-up funding of $10,000 for the Ladner shelter, which was used to buy mattresses, bedding, a washer and dryer, and other essentials. Start-up costs for the North Delta shelter are expected to be “consistent with or lower” than for the Ladner facility and will be paid for under the city’s current social planning budget, along with the cost for snow removal.
Delta’s (for now) only extreme weather shelter is located at 4960 48th Avenue, and has five beds available under COVID-related health regulations — down from nine pre-pandemic. The shelter is open overnight from 9 p.m. to 7 a.m., Nov. 1 to March 31, whenever Extreme Weather Response alerts are issued by the Homelessness Services Association of BC.
Alerts are triggered by extreme weather events including rainfall that makes it difficult or impossible for those experiencing homelessness to remain dry, sleet/freezing rain, snow accumulation, sustained high winds, temperatures at or feeling like 0 C or lower, rainfall of at least 50 mm in a 24-hour period, and/or storm surges or other flooding conditions.
The report notes that under the Assistance to Shelter Act, Delta police have the authority to transport a person at risk of harm during an extreme weather event to shelter, and the Delta Animal Shelter will also look after pets for free while their owners are in a temporary shelter.
For more information, visit delta.ca/community-culture/social-planning/shelters-delta.
For information about emergency supports and community services in Delta, the city has published the You Matter to Delta Pocket Guide. The guide, last updated in July, is available at delta.ca/community-culture/social-planning/social-services-infrastructure.