Surrey’s extreme weather shelters have been called to open more than 30 times so far this season, says the extreme weather response co-ordinator for Surrey, White Rock and Delta.
Jonquil Hallgate, the extreme weather response co-ordinator for the area, told the Now-Leader the extreme weather shelters have been called to open 32 days so far this season.
The Extreme Weather Response (EWR) program, according to Homelessness Services Association of BC, is a provincially funded initiative that supports community-based services to provide additional temporary emergency shelter spaces during periods of extreme winter weather “which threaten the health and safety of individuals experience homelessness.”
EWR spaces, according to BC Housing, are available from Nov. 1 to March 31, although sometimes spaces can open prior to Nov. 1. BC Housing said communities decide what weather conditions warrant an alert and how many spaces to open on a given night, depending on the capacity of existing shelters and the estimated need.
Back in November of 2018 — less than a month after the shelters had opened — Hallgate said there was a shortfall of extreme weather beds in north Surrey.
In the two months since then, Hallgate said not much has changed.
“We still don’t have as many as would like to have, but we’re making due and at this point, it’s been really fortunate that we haven’t had snow,” she said. “The weather, even though it’s been cold and quite wet this year, we just haven’t had the snow which has been a little bit of a blessing.”
Most recently, she said, the EWR spaces were opened last Friday (Jan. 25) and closed Wednesday morning (Jan. 30) as the temperatures were expected to go up again.
With two months to go, Hallgate said anyone who has donations or contributions for the shelters can email email@example.com to be put in touch with organizations.