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Vancouver's UGM braces for freezing weather, city emergency shelters open

Last Updated Jan 22, 2021 at 1:57 am PDT

(Courtesy: Twitter @ugm)

The Union Gospel Mission is offering more spaces while demand is up during the pandemic

The Langara YMCA will be open this weekend as Vancouver's latest emergency shelter

Metro Vancouver emergency shelters and warming stations will be open Friday January 22nd through January 25th

VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) — We are bracing for a blast of wintery weather in Metro Vancouver.

Freezing temperatures are expected through the weekend along with snow which has the Union Gospel Mission getting shelter space ready for people to move inside safely.

This will be the first full winter during the COVID-19 pandemic and physical distancing is another challenge to helping as many people as possible get off the streets.

However, Nicole Mucci with the Mission says they’re ready after adding more beds in early December.

“We were actually able to expand our shelter in early December from 72 beds to 92 beds nightly, so we able to supply more beds than we ever have.”

Mucci says the expansion is semi-permanent and will be in effect for the duration of the pandemic.

UGM also has a rescue vehicle that travels around helping people in need.

“We have higher homeless numbers than ever, we’ve got less space people can go to. We were able to move things around and really shift some stuff to make it work.”

Mucci adds, people really depend on emergency shelter, especially when it gets below freezing.

When we go around, we need to make sure people living outside have somewhere warm to stay or at least proper winter survival gear.”

If anyone has extra winter coats or boots, UGM is accepting donations.

In addition to regular emergency shelters in Vancouver, the Langara YMCA is also opening it’s doors this weekend and has 20 beds.

-With files from Renee Bernard and Ben Wilson