COQUITLAM (NEWS 1130) — The Tri-Cities now has an extreme weather shelter after a church in Coquitlam stepped in to offer space during a blast of wintry weather.
Starting Saturday at 8 p.m., 20 spaces will be available at the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints at 3345 Robson Dr.
After Coquitlam Mayor Richard Stewart drew attention to the fact that there were no emergency options in his city, or in Port Moody and Port Coquitlam, offers of space started coming in.
“I received calls from several Coquitlam churches stepping up to offer unused space for an Emergency Shelter to house homeless individuals during extreme weather,” he wrote on Facebook. “I want to thank all those who were involved in this work. Still much to be done to support the homeless and those struggling with mental illness and addictions, but at least our local population will be offered a warm place overnight and a couple of meals.”
PLEASE SHARE: Phoenix Society will be operating a 20-bed extreme weather shelter in #Coquitlam starting tonight, as temperatures continues to drop across the Lower Mainland.
— Phoenix Society (@Phoenix_Society) February 13, 2021
The Phoenix Society will run the shelter, which will open any time a weather alert is in effect — meaning when temperatures are at or below zero, or during wind, rain, or snowstorms.
“This cold weather and extremely cold weather was upon us, and we literally had no shelter services and spare beds available to bring people in from the cold,” says CEO Keir Macdonald.
“These beds could be the difference between life and death for those who are homeless and living outdoors during extreme weather.”
The shelter will operate in partnership with BC Housing, and the City of Coquitlam.
“To get this together in 24 hours, it’s unheard of,” Macdonald says
“It took a number of partners, and the community response has been incredible as well with donations. We appreciate everyone’s support to make this happen so quickly. With the snowfall this morning, it obviously couldn’t have come at a better time.”
In response to the extreme weather, in cooperation with Phoenix Drug & Alcohol Recovery & Education Society, tonite HFFS…
Another non-profit is doing outreach and offering transportation to people who need to access the shelter.
Extreme Weather Shelters operate between November and March as a way of getting more people indoors during dire weather conditions.
According to the 2020 Metro Vancouver Homeless Count, there were 86 people in the Tri-Cities who were unhoused. These counts are widely recognized to understate the number of people who are homeless.
“It’s not as visible, obviously, in areas like the Tri-Cities cities as it is in Vancouver, but we do have unhoused individuals that live across the community,” MacDonald says.
“The big thing in the Tri-Cities is, there’s only one permanent shelter, and it really hasn’t had capacity to cater to those individuals that are unhoused in the community, particularly since COVID where space has been squeezed a little bit more and there’s less availability in those spaces due to physical distancing. These extra spaces, like the extreme weather response program, are just so vital for providing extra capacity.”