Volunteers during the March 8 homeless count in Surrey. (Photo: Amy Reid)

Extreme weather shelters in Surrey open early

Rain prompted early October opening of emergency shelter beds

Surrey and White Rock extreme weather shelters were called to open early this month.

While the emergency program officially runs from Nov. 1 to March 31, emergency shelter beds opened for four nights during a rainy storm in late October.

All told, there are 60 spots available this year, which are in addition to the city’s permanent shelters.

There are normally more emergency beds, which are essentially mats on the floor.

Surrey-White Rock extreme weather program manager Jonquil Hallgate explained why the number is down this year.

“A lot of the beds that we’ve had in the past have become semi-permanent places,” she told the Now-Leader.

This means less are part of the emergency weather response program, because they’re now in operation year round, after a spike in the number of homeless in the city.

“So we’re at about 60 beds and normally we would have about 120.”

Hallgate said donations are needed to help those living on the street this winter.

“We’re praying for good weather but it doesn’t look like it’s going to be, so we’re working on getting all our plans in place, sites ready to go and of course, always looking for donations, personal care items, socks, toques, gloves and blankets, but not big heavy quilts, ones that are easy to wash all the things we need,” she said.

“Whatever people are willing to contribute.”

Hallgate asked anyone wishing to donate to email her at surreyextreme@gmail.com.

See more: Count finds 49 per cent more homeless people in Surrey

Surrey Urban Mission Society, at the corner of 108th Avenue and King George Boulevard, is one of the emergency shelters this year.

They now operate as a shelter year-round, offering 30 beds a night.

During emergency weather, that goes up to 45, explained executive director Michael Musgrove.

But it’s less than ideal, he said.

“Personally I don’t really like our shelter as it is right now, but I love doing it,” he told the Now-Leader. “It’s not like I can give someone a bed, because we have to pack it all up and serve a meal in the morning. If BC Housing decides to continue our contract, which ends in March, then I will do all I can to find another building, something else to run this is. This is just too busy. We’ve outgrown this building with the shelter.”

Musgrove said there about 300 shelter beds locally, excluding those called to open for emergency weather.

And almost all of those are full nightly.

Musgrove wondered “how many beds we could fill.”

“When will we get to the point where someone says, ‘This is too many shelters? Let’s close because we’re empty?’ I wonder how many would have to open for that to happen.”

See more: HOMELESS COUNT: The toll of Surrey streets

See more: More than 100 seniors living on Surrey streets: homeless count

The Metro Vancouver Homeless Count is done across the region every three years.

The 2017 count done in March found Surrey’s numbers have gone way up, rising 49 per cent to 602 this year.

In Surrey, the number of homeless counted stayed relatively stagnant over the last few counts. In 2005 the count identified 392 people as homeless, 402 in 2008, 400 in 2011 and 403 in 2014.

Eighteen per cent (137) of all the surveyed Aboriginal people across the region were found in Surrey.

Youth – defined as those under 25 years of age – made up 20 per cent of all homeless across the region. Seventeen per cent of all youth were found in Surrey, only surpassed by Vancouver.

And the count found at least 114 seniors living on Surrey streets. Although that number is likely even higher, as the survey is largely recognized as an under-count.


Like us on Facebook and follow Amy on Twitter

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Police tape is shown in Toronto Tuesday, May 2, 2017. (Graeme Roy/The Canadian Press)
CRIME STOPPERS: ‘Most wanted’ for the week of Oct. 18

Crime Stoppers’ weekly list based on information provided by police investigators

Signs at a new COVID-19 testing and collection centre at 14577 66th Ave. in Surrey. It was relocated from an urgent primary care centre near Surrey Memorial Hospital. This new centre allows for up to 800 tests per day, which is 550 more than the previous centre, according to Fraser Health. (Photo: Lauren Collins)
Surrey’s COVID-19 case count exceeds 1,800

About 800 new cases in September

Ivan Scott. (Aaron Hinks photo)
Surrey mayor enters word war with speakers, councillor

McCallum calls brief recess after asking two speakers to leave chambers

A reminder to students at Surrey’s Strawberry Hill Elementary to physically distance during the COVID-19 pandemic. (Photo: Lauren Collins)
Nine Surrey schools reporting COVID-19 exposures

INTERACTIVE TABLE: Search for schools, organize by exposure dates

Montreal-based writer Michael Foy grew up in the Newton area of Surrey. (submitted photo)
Surrey-raised writer Foy really loves to set his short stories in the city

His latest is published in ‘Canadian Shorts II’ collection

FILE – People wait in line at a COVID-19 testing facility in Burnaby, B.C., on Thursday, August 13, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
167 new COVID-19 cases, 1 death recorded as B.C. enters 2nd wave

Three new healthcare outbreaks also announced

Maple Meadows Station’s new Bike Parkade. TransLink photo
TransLink to remove abandoned or discarded bicycles from bike parkades

Rules at TransLink bike parkades ask customers to use facilities for single day use only

This 2020 electron microscope image made available by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases shows a Novel Coronavirus SARS-CoV-2 particle isolated from a patient, in a laboratory in Fort Detrick, Md. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP-NIAID/NIH via AP
At least 49 cases of COVID-19 linked to wedding in Calgary: Alberta Health

McMillan says the city of Calgary has recently seen several outbreaks linked to social gatherings

UBC geoscientists discovered the wreckage of a decades-old crash during an expedition on a mountain near Harrison Lake. (Submitted photo)
Wreckage of decades-old plane crash discovered on mountain near Harrison Lake

A team of Sts’ailes Community School students helped discover the twisted metal embedded in a glacier

The official search to locate Jordan Naterer was suspended Saturday Oct. 17. Photo courtesy of VPD.
‘I am not leaving without my son,’ says mother of missing Manning Park hiker

Family and friends continue to search for Jordan Naterer, after official efforts suspended

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

A bear similar to this black bear is believed responsible for killing a llama in Saanich on Oct. 19. (Black Press Media file photo)
Bear kills llama on Vancouver Island, prompting concerns over livestock

Officers could not track the bear they feel may not fear humans

RCMP crest. (Black Press Media files)
RCMP cleared in fatal shooting of armed Lytton man in distress, police watchdog finds

IIO spoke to seven civillian witnesses and 11 police officers in coming to its decision

A 34-year-old man was treated for a gunshot wound in Williams Lake Monday, Oct 19, 2020. (Angie Mindus photo - Williams Lake Tribune)
Williams Lake man treated for gunshot wound after accidental shooting: RCMP

Police are reminding residents to ensure firearms are not loaded when handling them

Most Read