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City will run December warming center on nights not covered by B.C. government

The City of Campbell River will run a warming center for the homeless through December even when it’s not covered by the province.

Council voted tonight (Wednesday) to have the center running when overnight temperatures are zero to minus 4. That’s a risky temperature for the homeless but doesn’t meet the threshold for funding from Emergency Management BC.

Assistant Fire Chief Stephanie Bremer told council this will cover until the Kwesa Place 24-bed shelter is set up.

“They are currently doing renovations and that is confirmed that they are at the Harbourside Inn for 24 beds and they have received support from BC Housing to become an extreme weather shelter,” Bremer said.

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The Harbourside Inn shelter will complement the existing Evergreen Center shelter (on Evergreen Road) which has 20 beds.

But Coun. Ben Lanyon told Bremer he’s concerned the city could have to do this again if the Kwesa and Evergreen shelters max out.

Lanyon: “The way I hear it is, we don’t have a solution presently and so this may be a request that we face again in January?”

Bremer: “Absolutely and I know that’s not what you want to hear. I wish I had different news to give you, I really do.”

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Bremer says they’re having trouble finding a comparable facility to the community center that can accommodate a large cot layout and washrooms.

Running the shelter at the community center will cost $3,700 a day for security, janitors, cleaning costs and support staff. The city will take it out of its council contingency fund, which has $38,500.

Council unanimously supported the warming center plan.

During her presentation, Bremer also said the city had applied to the B.C. government to run the warming center again on Thursday night as the temperature was expected to dip to minus 7. The center had been run Wednesday night.

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