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Surrey councillor calls for warming centres in shuttered civic buildings

Citynews 1130 Vancouver

Last Updated Feb 14, 2021 at 4:27 pm PDT

(Image via CityNews Vancouver)

Coun. Linda Annis is asking staff to act immediately and open up civic buildings as warming centres

The city has 59 spaces for people to sleep during winter, extreme weather which Annis says falls far short of the need

SURREY (NEWS 1130) — One Surrey councillor is calling on the city to open up warming centers in civic buildings, saying the fact that there is nowhere for people who are homeless to get respite from the cold is “just wrong.”

Coun. Linda Annis is asking staff to act immediately, saying this issue can’t wait until the next council meeting on Feb 22.

“There aren’t enough emergency beds, there’s not enough places to get warmed up, Surrey is one of the few municipalities in the Greater Vancouver area, that doesn’t have warming centres and that’s just wrong,” she says.

“The weather is very very cold right now and it’s very unfortunate we have many homeless people in the city of Surrey. The cold snap, it’s gonna be around for another couple of days so it could really be life and death for a lot of people.”

She says some recreation centres and other municipal buildings remain closed due to the pandemic, and thinks those spaces could be used to meet his crucial need right now.

And she wants to see a plan in place for the future so when the weather is extremely hot or extremely cold there are spaces available.

“People can’t be out on the streets when the temperature is so severe. We need to have a plan in place, where they have a place to go to easily, and it’s very accessible,” she says.

According to the city’s website, there two winter shelters in the city, with 20 mats available at each location.The city’s extreme weather response program offers an additional 19 mats when a weather alert is in effect.

The 2020 Metro Vancouver Homeless Count found 644 people unhoused in the city, rightly 200 of whom were “unsheltered” meaning they were “individuals who were living outside, in makeshift accommodations, in tents, in warming centres, in vehicles or staying temporarily indoor.”