Advocates for Greater Victoria’s homeless population are putting out a plea to the community looking for more shelter space to combat the cold. (Nicole Crescenzi/News Staff)

Victoria homeless advocates desperate for additional shelter space in extreme weather

Current homeless shelters ‘bursting at the seams’

Advocates for Greater Victoria’s homeless population are putting out a plea to the community looking for more shelter space to combat the cold.

Victoria’s homeless population, of which there are more than 1,500, are pouring into local shelters at night in higher numbers than usual due to the snow.

For six days straight Victoria’s Extreme Weather Protocol (EWP) has been active, meaning that temporary emergency shelters have opened and more mats have been put out at local shelters. The EWP is activated in acute weather conditions such as wind, snow or rain or when temperatures hit 0C or below. Even with the extra space, however, more room is needed.

“We’re functioning at a much higher than normal capacity,” said Jen Wilde, regional coordinator with the Victoria Extreme Weather Protocol. “I’d say we’re bursting at the seams.”

READ MORE: Our Place runs out of gloves, sends out alert

Local shelters have been at capacity in recent evenings, including at Our Place at 909 Pandora Ave., which usually has 155 mats and an additional 15 when EWP is activated.

“We offer transportation to other shelters such as the Victoria Native Friendship Centre if they have room,” said Grant McKenzie, director of communications. “[But] I was just talking to operations and all the shelters they were driving people to last night were completely full by 11:20 p.m.”

The situation is the same at the Victoria Cool Aid Society, which operates Rock Bay Landing at 533 Ellice St. and the Downtown Community Centre at 755 Pandora Ave.

“The extreme cold and snowy weather that Greater Victoria is now experiencing is making life much more difficult, especially for Cool Aid’s clients who are homeless,” said Alan Rycroft, community relations manager. “Cool Aid operates 124 permanent shelter beds which are filled to capacity.”

Cool Aid also adds 25 mats to Rock Bay Landing during EWP activation, and 45 mats at the Downtown Community Centre, all of which are being filled.

Wilde said that funding has already been approved to open an additional shelter, but now the tricky part is actually finding a space.

ALSO READ: More snow expected for Greater Victoria

“I have been calling, emailing and looking all over the place. I’ve been actively reaching out, but so far I haven’t heard back from anyone,” she said. “We’re going to have to keep looking and keep actively asking the community.”

Finding a space isn’t easy as it needs to meet a few requirements; it needs public liability insurance, a washroom, and place large enough to accommodate people sleeping on the floor.

Additionally, shelters have run out of all items it can hand out to the public, including gloves, mittens, toques, jackets, shoes, socks and sleeping bags.

Anyone who can offer shelter space in Greater Victoria is encouraged to contact Wilde at 250-896-4012 or jen@vewp.net.

Anyone who would like to make a clothing or financial donation to the shelters can do so at Our Place at 909 Pandora Ave., Rock Bay Landing at 533 Ellice St., or at the Salvation Army men’s shelter at 525 Johnson St.

nicole.crescenzi@vicnews.com

Like us on Facebook, send a Tweet to @NicoleCrescenzi
and follow us on Instagram

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

 

Advocates for Greater Victoria’s homeless population are putting out a plea to the community looking for more shelter space to combat the cold. (Nicole Crescenzi/News Staff)

Just Posted

Central Saanich’s Keating Elementary completes seismic upgrades

Sidney Elementary and North Saanich’s Deep Cove Elementary still waiting for seismic upgrades

Langford ranks as fastest growing community in B.C.

Westshore community grew by 5.2 per cent in 2019 compared to 2018

Highlands councillor designs ‘carbon budget’ for CRD municipalities

Budget shows how much carbon left for each municipality to use to meet climate goals

Boutique ice cream business crafts ‘philanthropint’ to give back

49 Below Ice Cream concocts enough flavour to make 64 meals for Our Place

Traffic delays: Saturday work added to Highway 1 construction schedule

Work continues on dangerous stretch between Leigh Road and West Shore Parkway

B.C. reports first coronavirus in Vancouver region

First patient visited Wuhan, China, reported symptoms

Earthquake on top of highway closure a wake up call for Island’s West Coast

“When someone says, ‘Be prepared for 72 hours,’ that means exactly that: be prepared.”

Pregnant B.C. woman stuck in Wuhan, the epicentre of coronavirus outbreak

Woman is due to give birth in Wuhan, China unless she can get out

Taxi association asks B.C. Supreme Court to stop Uber, Lyft from operating

Petition alleges Passenger Transportation Board did not take taxis into account

Majority of Canadian boards had no female members in 2016 and 2017: StatCan

Statistics Canada says 18.1 per cent of director seats were held by women in 2017

Swapping grape varieties can help winemakers adapt to climate change: UBC study

Report says 56% of wine-grape-growing regions would be lost if global climate warms by 2 C

Alberta premier wants feds to approve Teck mine for benefit of First Nations

Kenney: ‘Surely [reconciliation] means saying yes to economic development for First Nations people’

Filming for Resident Alien begins in Ladysmith

Aliens and excitement take over the streets of Ladysmith during new TV series

Most Read