White Rock council has taken a first step toward a dedicated daytime warming shelter for homeless on the Peninsula by authorizing $160,000 for a temporary structure at Centennial Park.
At the Jan. 24 meeting, a majority of councillors present voted in favour of the measure, following a report from recreation and culture director Eric Stepura in which he said that Surrey has agreed to contribute 50 per cent – up to $80,000 – of the budget for the shelter.
The shelter, which would accommodate a maximum of 30 people, would be set up in a modular office trailer in the parking lot, adjacent to the concession and washroom facility at the baseball diamond, and would be in operation from Jan. 28 to March 15.
It would be staffed and operated by qualified personnel on contract through the Engaged Communities of Canada Society, Stepura said, adding that in addition to providing shelter, it would help direct users to other resources available to them.
In moving staff recommendations for the shelter, Coun. Anthony Manning added a provision that the daytime centre be open only at those times when the existing night time shelter is in operation at Mount Olive Lutheran Church, which, he suggested, could reduce the funding needed for the remainder of this winter.
Only vote against the motion was cast by Coun. Erika Johanson, who favoured the centre remaining open throughout the time period.
In response to questions from Coun. Christopher Trevelyan, city CAO Guillermo Ferrero said the budget had been estimated on a “worst-case-scenario” of the facility being in use for the whole period of time allotted.
He added that there would likely be adjustments for such details as providing transportation from the night-time to the daytime centre, which would depend on whether volunteers, the society or the city took it on.
“If council passes this motion we’re going to learn a lot through this process, and most likely we’re going to get more data for when we implement this, if we need to next year, as well,” he said.
Mayor Darryl Walker, who has been in consultation with faith groups and other community organizations to find both short-term and long-term solutions to providing a warming shelter in the city, said he felt it was probable that many volunteer groups would step up to help, and also that it was likely there was other government funding that would be available for the project.