Winter shelter opened in Powell River to meet homeless demand

An increasing demand for shelter spaces on B.C.’s Sunshine Coast has prompted the opening of a new 20-bed refuge for those who need it.

The temporary cold-weather shelter is slated to open in Powell River, B.C., on Nov. 15.

Until now, those hoping for a shelter space in Powell River had to look elsewhere. The closest beds, outside emergency shelter spaces, were a ferry ride away in the Comox Valley.

Stuart Clark, executive director of the Powell River Employment Program Society, says that soon will change.

“In the last few years we’ve seen the demand go up quite significantly,” said Clark. “This new shelter will cover, we think, the need of those sleeping outside with no home.”

Clark said the shelter will be at the Powell River Community Resource Centre. By day the centre will continue offering resources to residents, and by night the tables will be pushed back and cots will be set up on the floor.

Funded through the provincial ministry of housing, the shelter will be open seven days a week until March 31.

For the last two years, an emergency cold-weather shelter operated in Powell River during the winter months.

The shelter wasn’t always effective however, said Clark, because there were certain weather thresholds that needed to be met before it was allowed to open. It was then difficult to get the word out to people living on the streets.

“That was the downfall of it,” said Clark. “It’s difficult to disseminate information to people who are in a situation of being homeless … to know if it is open or not.”

Clark said he hopes this new shelter, with defined open and close dates, will remedy that issue.

“We’re working fast to get it open.”

With files from On the Island

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