A homeless man (Malcolm Garret, pexels.com)
With snow and frigid weather in the forecast this week, Campbell River’s homeless are being urged to come in out of the cold.
The Salvation Army’s Evergreen House emergency shelter is open year-round and provides 22 beds to clients over the age of 19.
The Extreme Weather Response shelter is operational from Nov. 1 to March 31 and provides an additional six beds at its Evergreen location at the corner of Evergreen Road and Dogwood Street.
People are provided with a bed, meals, shower and laundry services.
Brenda Bolton is the lead hand at the Evergreen House shelter. She said there are six emergency beds available, with the capacity of taking more people in.
“We won’t turn anybody away unless they are highly intoxicated and not able to manoeuvre stairs and look after themselves,” she said.
Bolton said the conditions are very dangerous, especially for those who have been drinking.
“They can pass out, intoxicated, and the weather can take their lives,” she said.
She said the location is one of the reasons why the shelter hasn’t been at capacity: “It’s too far out and it’s hard to walk out here.”
Meanwhile, Campbell River Sobering and Assessment Centre coordinator, Kevin James, said they offer a bed, laundry, shower, and snack in the morning.
He said the centre has 400 people on file, and sees “a lot of regulars, but not always.”
James said the centre is full every night, regardless of the weather.
He added that the sobering centre was established two-and-a-half years ago in response to “one of many deaths in Vancouver.”
“The coroners’ inquest said ‘Hey, why don’t you have a centre just for people that are intoxicated?’”
“So they were working at them all over B.C. and this is one of the first ones that got built,” James said.
James said the cold weather increases the number of people who they have to turn away at night: “If we have blankets, we give them out, some people come back in the morning when beds start to empty out and fill them back up again.”
Environment Canada’s forecast calls for snow and lows of minus-five and minus-two on Tuesday and Wednesday, respectively.