White Rock extreme-weather shelter volunteers Ana and Kukki. (Contributed photo)

White Rock extreme-weather shelter reports record attendance

Volunteer co-ordinator Joan McMurtry says permanent shelter not the solution

Despite this winter’s rather balmy winter weather, White Rock’s extreme-weather shelter is seeing a record number of overnight guests.

The shelter, which only opens during extreme-weather events or if temperatures dip close to 0ºC, had as many as 26 guests one evening this year, breaking last year’s high of 22. The shelter averages 17-18 people per night.

Volunteer co-ordinator JoanMcMurtry – who volunteered at the shelter Christmas morning – said she’s unsure why there has been an increase in usage.

“It’s hard for us to know exactly why that is,” she told Peace Arch News Thursday. “We’re not sure what those dynamics are. We’re seeing a younger crowd, people in their 20s and 30s.”

The extreme-weather shelter, organized by Peninsula United, moved to Star of the Sea hall this year after spending many years inside First United Church.

First United Church, in its current form, will soon cease to exist. Construction on a four-storey building, which is to include a new United Church space and 82 assisted-living units, is expected to begin in 2019.

The White Rock extreme-weather shelter was open three days in November and 30 days this month.

McMurtry told PAN that White Rock Mayor Darryl Walker volunteered for a shift from 5:45-7:45 a.m., Dec. 14.

“He helped make sandwiches, served coffee to our guests and mopped the floor of Star of the Sea and had a chance to chat with a few of the volunteers and staff,” McMurtry said.

“We really appreciated him coming and it shows his interest and concern. It gives him a better awareness of the people that come through and what the shelter is all about.”

McMurtry said the shelter is a temporary solution to a bigger problem.

“When anyone gets into trouble around work or because of health issues, they’re stuck,” McMurtry said. “There’s not the accommodation to easily find a place and you end up overnight in the shelter. They come, they’re very appreciative of what we do for them.

“Some people say we need a permanent shelter, but I say no,” she said. “What we need is permanent housing, we need housing to be build in our community that includes supportive housing. Where folks who have been out on the streets for a while and are under the weather, health-wise, can get support. That’s what we need.”

She said that land, and “an infusion of money” from the provincial and federal government is required.

“Really, our purpose is to save people from freezing to death, getting frostbite. That’s the bottom line, anything else we can do is on top of that.”

Currently, the shelter is in need of winter coats. Donations can be made to Peninsula United head office, located at 15639 24 Ave.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Walnut Grove’s Shawn Meehan (front) has started another band, Trigger Mafia. This local country rocker has put country on the shelf, and is going hard-core rock with this group, releasing their first single last Friday to radio. It started as a way to pass the time during the COVID lockdown, and evolved. (Special to Langley Advance Times)
VIDEO: Langley musician drives rock revival with COVID twist

Trigger Mafia goes straight from the garage to radio with raw lyrics

A reminder to students at Surrey’s Strawberry Hill Elementary to physically distance during the COVID-19 pandemic. (Photo: Lauren Collins)
Teachers, staff should be included in contact tracing: Surrey Teachers’ Association president

STA says there is also ‘no harm in going even further’ with a mask mandate

A reminder to students at Surrey’s Strawberry Hill Elementary to physically distance during the COVID-19 pandemic. (Photo: Lauren Collins)
Five Surrey schools reporting COVID-19 exposures

INTERACTIVE TABLE: Search for schools, organize by exposure dates

The peninsula’s Community Christmas Day Dinner at White Rock Baptist Church – seen here in 2019 – has been cancelled for 2020, because of pandemic-inspired limitations on gatherings. (File photo)
Annual Community Christmas dinner ‘just not possible’ this year

Organizers vow that 40 years-plus Semiahmoo Peninsula tradition will return, post-COVID

Strawberry Hill Hall is being renovated and moved to another location on its existing corner lot in Newton. (Photo: Tom Zillich)
Surrey’s historic Strawberry Hill Hall being moved a few metres in $1.2M reno project

Childcare spaces coming to corner lot where hall has stood for 111 years

A woman wears a face mask and plastic gloves while browsing books as a sticker on the floor indicates a one-way direction of travel between shelves of books at the Vancouver Public Library’s central branch, after it and four other branches reopened with limited services, in Vancouver, on Tuesday, July 14, 2020. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck)
B.C. reports 234 new COVID cases, 1 death of senior who had attended small birthday party

Roughly 5,700 people are isolating due to being exposed to a confirmed case

Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry speaks Thursday (Oct. 29) during a news conference held at Fraser Health office, in video posted to Facebook. (Photo: Government of British Columbai/Facebook)
COVID-19 ‘disproportionately’ affecting Fraser Health: Henry

Health region has about 75 per cent of B.C.’s active cases

Burnaby RCMP responded to a dine-and-dash suspect who fell through a ceiling in March 2020. (RCMP handout)
VIDEO: Suspected dine-and-dasher falls through ceiling of Burnaby restaurant

A woman believed to be dashing on her restaurant bill fell through the kitchen ceiling

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

A can of Canada Dry Ginger Ale is shown in Toronto on Thursday Oct. 29, 2020. The maker of Canada Dry Ginger Ale has agreed to pay over $200,000 to settle a class-action lawsuit launched by a B.C. man who alleged he was misled by marketing suggesting the soda had medicinal benefits. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Joseph O’Connal
B.C. man’s lawsuit over marketing of Canada Dry ginger ale settled for $200K

Soda’s maker, Canada Dry Mott’s Inc., denied the allegations and any liability

Vancouver Island-based Wilson’s Transportation has expanded to fill some of the routes left unserviced by Greyhound as of Nov. 1, 2018. (Black Press files)
B.C. bus companies say they need help to survive COVID-19

Like airlines, motor coaches have lost most of their revenue

A deer was spotted in October 2020 in Prince Rupert, B.C., with a bright pink yoga ball stuck in its antlers. (Kayla Vickers/Chronicles Of Hammy The Deer Official Page)
Hammy 2.0? Prince Rupert deer spotted with bright pink yoga ball stuck in antlers

The BC Conservation Officer Service is aware of the deer roaming around the city

RCMP. (Phil McLachlan - Black Press Media)
Kelowna Mountie hit with 2nd lawsuit in 2 months for alleged assault

Const. Julius Prommer is accused of breaking a woman’s knee during while responding to a noise complaint

Hirdeypal Batth, 24, has been charged with sexual assault and forcible confinement in relation to an incident in August 2020. (VPD handout)
Man, 24, charged with sex assault after allegedly posing as Uber driver in Vancouver

Investigators believe there could be more victims outside of the Vancouver area

Most Read