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)

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

HomelessHousing crisisSnow

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)

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

This rendering shows the proposed warehouse for lands under the authority of the Victoria Airport Authority near a Sidney residential neighbourhood. (York Realty/Submitted).
Sidney calls on Victoria Airport Authority to improve design of planned warehouse

Council stops short of a definitive statement for or against proposal

A partnership is looking to identify skeletal remains that were discovered by recreational divers in the Gorge Waterway this February. (Black Press Media File Photo)
Divers find partial human skull in Gorge Waterway

B.C. Coroner Service determines remains likely historical, not ancestral

A man was arrested after allegedly threatening people downtown on May 10 while brandishing this knife. (Photo courtesy of VicPD)
Man armed with a knife arrested for allegedly threatening people in downtown Victoria

Officers used de-escalation techniques during afternoon arrest

Colwood council voted to give businesses less of a cut than planned and will look for more cuts this week. (Black Press Media file photo)
Colwood council gets back to work after voting against 9.3% property tax hike

Emergency meetings this week will find more cuts, finalize tax plan by Friday deadline

A bullet hole is seen in the windshield of an RCMP vehicle approximately 4 km from Vancouver International Airport after a one person was killed during a shooting outside the international departures terminal at the airport, in Richmond, B.C., Sunday, May 9, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Homicide team IDs man in fatal YVR shooting as police grapple with spate of gang violence

Man, 20, charged in separate fatal shooting Burnaby over the weekend

Two-year-old Kashius Weme rides at the Steve Smith Memorial Bike Park in Nanaimo on Tuesday, May 11. The youngster’s precocious bike-riding ability is already attracting cycle sponsors. (Chris Bush/News Bulletin)
2-year-old bike rider on Vancouver Island already attracting cycle sponsors

Nanaimo’s Kashius Weme has a knack for extreme cycle sports

Keith MacIntyre - BC Libertarian
Penticton’s Keith MacIntyre new leader of the B.C. Libertarian Party

The Penticton businessman was voted in by members of the party on May 8

RCMP are searching for Philip Toner, who is a 'person of interest' in the investigation of a suspicious death in Kootenay National Park last week. Photo courtesy BC RCMP.
Man sought in suspicious Kootenay death found in Lake Country

Philip Toner is a person of interest in the death of Brenda Ware

Vernon North Okanagan RCMP reported to 287 mental health calls between Jan. 1, 2021, and May 1. (Black Press files)
‘It’s not the police’s responsibility to deal with mental health calls’: Vernon RCMP

RCMP remind public to take care of mental health and well-being, while better solutions are sought

Thompson Rivers University campus is in Kamloops, B.C. (KTW file photo)
Thompson Rivers the 1st B.C. university to supply free menstrual products

The university will offer the products this September

Fraser Health is using ‘targeted’ vaccination clinics in high-risk areas of the Lower Mainland. (Fraser Health photo)
B.C.’s COVID-19 decrease continues, 515 new cases Tuesday

426 seriously ill people in hospital, up from 415 Monday

A scene from the Schoolhouse Squat from October 2018, where Alliance Against Displacement members and supporters occupied the Rutherford Elementary School site, advocating for people experiencing homelessness. (News Bulletin file)
‘Schoolhouse Squat’ activists get conditional discharge in Nanaimo school occupation

Ivan Donald Drury, Tingchun (Listen) Chen sentenced in provincial court in Nanaimo

The site of Sunfest, Laketown Ranch, will be open for camping this summer. (Citizen file)
Sunfest country music bash won’t be shining on B.C. in 2021

Annual Vancouver Island Festival cancelled due to COVID-19, along with Laketown Shakedown

Most Read