SURREY — Extreme weather shelters in Surrey and White Rock were called to open Thursday night as heavy wind and rain hit the region.
They are open until Monday morning at this point, said Surrey-White Rock program manager Peter Fedos.
“We’ve been tracking this thing for about a week before it broke,” added Fedos. “Our concern was hypothermia because this is the type of weather conditions that cause hypothermia.”
Fifty beds are available, if needed: 20 at Surrey Urban Mission, 15 at Cloverdale Church and another 15 at First United Church (White Rock/South Surrey).
“That’s on top of the sites that are already full with the tent city folks,” said Fedos. “We ended up with 22 of the 50 spaces occupied last night. But all told, 75 people were sheltered from the storm.”
Yesterday at about 10:15 a.m., there were more than 30 tents set up along Surrey’s 135A Street.
“That’s a good indicator of what housing prices really means,” said Fedos. “That’s the final outcome of not having housing. These people have nowhere to go. I anticipate we’ll probably see the same kind of numbers again (tonight.)
“We’ve got the front storm coming Saturday so we will be open until Monday morning,” he added. “It makes no sense to bring them in then throw them out again.”
Fedos said BC Housing deserves credit for opening up extreme weather beds early.
“We usually start in November and get about four or five days but it started early. So everybody kind of jumped. Frontline staff jumped and got it done. It was awesome. But the City of Surrey, BC Housing and the frontline folks all deserve credit.”
Other extreme weather shelters throughout B.C. were also called to open, according to a provincial statement.
“Storm season has arrived earlier than usual this year, and as a result, the Province is providing early funding to any Extreme Weather Response (EWR) shelter in British Columbia that is prepared to open early,” reads the statement.
Last winter, more than 1,700 additional shelter spaces in more than 80 communities were made available as a result of harsh weather. That’s in addition to nearly 1,900 permanents shelter beds throughout B.C.