Surrey’s homeless people will have a rough ride this weekend as Metro Vancouver expects to see up to 20 centimetres of snowfall as well as sub-zero temperatures.
Saturday night’s Coldest Night of the Year fundraising event couldn’t happen at a more appropriate time as participants meet at Chuck Bailey Recreation Centre at 4 p.m. and walk to raise money for the Surrey Road to Home Society.
“The message I tell everybody is hey, we’re out here for an hour and we’re cold and not happy, but there’s people who are outside with nothing,” said Jonquil Hallgate, an organizer.
“We are predictably going to one of the coldest spells of weather for the next several days,” she noted. “Where do people go? How people are still alive at the end of it is always a miracle to me.”
Asked if Surrey has enough shelters available to meet the demand for warming, Hallgate replied “absolutely not.”
“The number of people who are homeless continues to grow.”
Asked that same question, Surrey Mayor Brenda Locke replied Friday that while Surrey has more shelters than ever, she questions whether there are sufficient to meet demand.
“We’ve had more than we’ve ever had, but do we have sufficient? We won’t know, we don’t know because we’ve never done a proper count,” Locke said. “So I’m hopeful this time we do a proper count of the people that are unhoused but right now we don’t really know that number. We’ve got a number that I know is not accurate; we’ve been using that for years. I think it’s 680 or something like that. It’s a very underplayed number.”
According to the Homelessness Services Association of BC, current “Extreme Weather Activations” in Surrey are located at Fleetwood Christian Reformed Church at 9165-160 Street, with 14 mats available, from 7 p.m. to 7 a.m.; Nourish EWR at 13545 King George Boulevard, with 16 mats, from 11 p.m. to 7 a.m.; Surrey Alliance Church at 13474-96 Ave., with 30 mats, from 9:30 p.m. to 7:30 a.m.; Atira EWR Shelter at 13327-100A Ave., with six mats for women, from 8 p.m. to 8 a.m. (intake from 8 p.m. to 12 a.m.); and Pacific Community Resources Society EWR Youth Shelter at 10453 Whalley Boulevard, with 10 mats available for ages 24 and under, from 7 p.m. to 7 a.m. If there are no guests by 11 p.m. this site closes.
Additionally, people seeking refuge from freezing weather in Surrey can find relief at the following City of Surrey civic facilities listed on the city’s website. Check surrey.ca for hours.
Cloverdale Recreation Centre 6188-176 St. (*pets welcome); Clayton Community Centre 7155-187A St. (*pets welcome); Surrey Libraries – Clayton Branch 7155-187A St.; Surrey Libraries – Cloverdale Branch 5642-176A St.; Museum of Surrey 17710-56A Ave.; Fraser Heights Recreation Centre 10588-160 St. (*pets welcome); Guildford Recreation Centre 15105-105 Ave. (*pets welcome); Surrey Libraries – Guildford Branch 15105-105 Ave.; Surrey Sport & Leisure Complex #100-16555 Fraser Hwy. (*pets welcome); Fleetwood Community Centre 15996-84 Ave. (*pets welcome); Surrey Libraries – Fleetwood Branch 15996 84 Ave.; Newton Recreation Centre 13730-72 Ave. (*pets welcome); Surrey Libraries – Newton Branch 13795-70 Ave.; Surrey Libraries – Strawberry Hill Branch 7399-122 St.; South Surrey Recreation & Arts Centre 14601-20 Ave. (*pets welcome); Grandview Heights Aquatic Centre 16855-24 Ave. (*pets welcome); Surrey Libraries – Ocean Park Branch 12854-17 Ave.; Surrey Libraries – Semiahmoo Branch 1815-152 St.; Chuck Bailey Recreation Centre 13458-107A Ave. (*pets welcome); Surrey Libraries – City Centre Branch 10350 University Drive.