Province commits $400,000 to new winter shelter in Surrey

Housing minister visits Surrey during Homelessness Action Week to announce funding commitment

The province will pay $400

WHALLEY — In the middle of Homelessness Action Week, B.C.’s housing minister Rich Coleman made a visit to Surrey to announce a $400,000 funding commitment for a new winter shelter.

The province also committed to putting more dollars toward extreme weather shelters in the city this year. Extreme weather shelters are only open at night, meaning the homeless must leave and spend their day outside.

The new 24-hour 40-bed shelter, as the Now first reported last week, will be located in the old Dell Beer and Wine store on Whalley Boulevard.

Lookout Emergency Aid Society, which runs Surrey’s emergency shelter, will operate the site.

News of a winter shelter comes after the city went two years without one, due to city council not being able to land on a location.

“Opening additional shelters during the winter is a critical step in addressing homelessness in this province,” said Coleman during his visit to Surrey’s Gateway Emergency Shelter on Tuesday. “We have to ensure B.C.’s most vulnerable people have safe shelter when they need it most.”

From 2012 to 2013, the winter shelter program in Surrey provided 24-hour shelter to 157 people over a span of six months (November to March). It led to 72 people finding housing.

BC Housing provides funding to operate and staff winter shelters in communities where the number of homeless people exceeds the number of shelter beds available, explained Aileen Murphy, Surrey’s senior social planner.

“And that’s the case in Surrey,” she noted.

The 2014 Metro Vancouver Homeless Count found 403 homeless people in Surrey, 140 of those unsheltered.

Murphy said renovations to the site are underway, and it will be equipped with toilets and showers, bunk beds, washing machines and dryers, and facilities to reheat food to accommodate meal service on site.

There will also be space for people to store belongings, she added.

“It will have a bit of a separate sleeping for women as well. It will be operated and it will be set up with kind of an eye to making sure women who reside in the shelter in the winter are safe.”

Murphy said the winter shelter is really a short-term fix, and the longer-term solution is the new emergency shelter in the works.

The city has rezoned land near Surrey Memorial Hospital for the new shelter.

“BC Housing is in the process of issuing an RFP for the design team, so it’s moving ahead,” Murphy said of the permanent facility.

SURREY GETTING SHORT END OF THE FUNDING STICK: REPORT

Alex Dibnah, a research intern with the Downtown Surrey BIA this summer, embarked upon a project looking at BC Housing contributions.

She found over the past five years, investments have been “stacked considerably in Vancouver’s favour.”

In the past fiscal year alone – 2014 to 2015 – there were a total of 60,556 BC Housing units across the region with 27,136 of them (44.8 per cent) in Vancouver and 7,988 (13.2 per cent) in Surrey.

Of the $394,736,000 invested in the region, roughly 58 per cent went to Vancouver and 12 per cent to Surrey, she found.

“These figures demonstrate that Surrey has received substantially less support from BC Housing than Vancouver since 2011,” says Dibnah’s report.

“According to the most recent homeless count, Vancouver has over four times more homeless individuals than Surrey (1,803 to 403).

“However, as Surrey is growing considerably faster than Vancouver, it is clear that Surrey’s needs will continue to grow,” she wrote in the report. “As a new, rapidly growing urban centre, Surrey has the benefit of a clean slate, and can learn from the examples of other, more established cities. Vancouver, the only city in the province currently larger than Surrey, has an entrenched homeless problem. The right actions now could help Surrey avoid following in Vancouver’s footsteps.”

Just Posted

Surrey Community Leader Awards winners revealed

The 16th CLA awards, presented by the Now-Leader, recognized Surrey’s un-sung heroes

COMMUTER ALERT: Serious pedestrian crash closes Pacific Highway

Traffic along 176th Street, 4th to 8th Avenue, is blocked while Mounties continue to investigate.

MPs meet with Surrey council to discuss RCMP, LRT

Federal government to have quarterly meetings with Surrey

Hogg curious if a new recreation centre is needed in Grandview Heights

South Surrey-White Rock MP to host a Town Hall Meeting tonight

Surrey building that has gathered dust for 20 years is for sale again, with bids sought

Potential sale of the long-vacant 104 Avenue Centre is good news, Surrey Board of Trade CEO says

People flocking to Vancouver Island city to see hundreds of sea lions

Each year the combination of Steller and California sea lions take over Cowichan Bay

Baloney Meter: Will tougher penalties for gang members make Canada safer?

Since 2013, gang-related homicides in Canada’s largest cities have almost doubled

Early data suggests no spike in pot-impaired driving after legalization: police

Some departments said it’s too early to provide data, others said initial numbers suggest stoned driving isn’t on the rise

Protesters confront Environment Minister in B.C.

Protesters wanting more for killer whales confront Catherine McKenna

Humans reshaping evolutionary history of species around the globe: paper

University of British Columbia researcher had the paper published in the Proceedings of the Royal Society

Toronto ‘carding’ activist Desmond Cole stopped by police in Vancouver

Cole says his experience reveals what daily life is like for black and Indigenous residents

Tubing, skating, light display part of new winter festival in Vancouver

Set to open Nov. 23, the six-week festival will take over Vancouver’s Concord Pacific Centre

Commercial trucks banned from left lane of Coquihalla

B.C.’s Ministry of Transportation has introduced a new program that hopes to prevent accidents and closures on the Coquihalla Highway.

B.C. on track to record same number of overdose deaths as last year

128 people died of overdoses in September, bringing the total to more than 1,100 so far in 2018

Most Read