The question of when the Semiahmoo Peninsula might finally get a daytime warming centre was discussed anew Friday (Dec. 3) – although still not answered – during the Peninsula Homeless to Housing society’s last meeting of 2021.
Following an update on the use of the emergency-weather shelter at Mount Olive Lutheran Church, Kathy Booth told PH2H members there remains few options for those who are experiencing homelessness to find a warm, dry place to stay outside of the EWS hours of 10 p.m. to 7 a.m.
“It’s a long day for folks to be out on the street waiting to come in for a warm, safe place,” Booth said.
“This coming winter, if it’s possible for the city to open one of their sites, for a site to be made available during the daytime, that would be the best option. That’s something I would welcome.”
Booth was among proponents who asked White Rock council in February for the city’s help in providing an emergency daytime warming centre.
While the idea was nixed for last season – although the city’s at-risk and priority population task force formed to look at longer-term options – Booth said Friday that she remains “hopeful” that such a facility will soon be provided.
“It’s a very long day and as you know, a lot of things close at 9 p.m. as well,” she said. “It’s just rough out there.”
Booth said the pet-friendly extreme-weather shelter – located at 2350 148 St. and offering 20 beds – was open on 25 nights between Nov. 1-30, and recorded 193 guests over the course of the month.
Bruce Strom, senior manager of homelessness services for Options Community Services – which staffs the shelter – told Peace Arch News on Monday (Dec. 6) that another 11 to 17 people accessed the service each night between Dec. 1-5.
Cheryl Lightowlers told PH2H members that it is “unconscionable” to think that people in need have nowhere to go after 7 a.m.
A daytime warming centre would be a good start, however, much more is needed, she said.
“In another couple of years, we have to be creating a full-service, 24/7 shelter in this area, we just have to.”
At the city’s last at-risk and priority population task force meeting, held Oct. 27, Mayor Darryl Walker noted that work on establishing a full-time “shelter-in-place situation” locally is ongoing, and will continue even while the task force is held in abeyance until the end of January; a decision he said was prompted by a lack of staffing.
Booth said Friday that the number of people accessing the extreme-weather shelter at Mount Olive is anticipated to rise as the weather worsens and knowledge of the shelter’s relocation expands.
Last year, a temporary shelter was hosted at Peace Portal Alliance Church, and, during particularly inclement weather, accommodated as many as 33 people.
Strom told PAN that the Mount Olive shelter will continue to open every night this week, but after that, it depends on the forecast. However, there is “good potential to be open through the weekend as well.”
The PH2H society next meets at 10 a.m. on Feb. 4, 2022.
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