An extreme weather shelter that opened last month in Port Moody has been filling up, shelter operators say.
The Kyle Centre has been open to house as many as 15 people during extreme weather events, since the winter shelter was approved by Port Moody city council, and has regularly been seeing about 10 people a night.
With huge rain storms deluging the region by as much as 126 mm of rain in a 24-hour period, the shelter has been a lifeline to keep people safe, says the CEO of the Phoenix Society, which runs the shelter.
“People come in at night wet, cold and incredibly grateful to have a place to dry off, collect some warm clothes and have a safe place to sleep. One individual who has been regularly accessing this service gets up at 5 a.m. to go to work every day and without the program would still be sleeping outdoors,” said CEO Keir Macdonald.
Typically, guests arrive via transit or with their carts, some getting transit passes from outreach workers. They are given a hot meal when they arrive and a bagged lunch when they leave.
However, there have been some growing pains since the shelter opened, and both the city’s mayor and Macdonald say issues are being addressed.
Sweeps are being conducted when the shelter opens to ensure there is no drug paraphernalia left in the area after some was found, and city and Phoenix staff are working together to resolve issues with local businesses and PoMoArts.
“These are early days in the offering of this valuable service to those in our community that benefit from this service and the Phoenix Society has been very responsive in helping address issues as they arise,” stated Mayor Rob Vagramov in an email to the Tri-City News.
“[PMPD] Chief Fleugel and I both agree that these are best characterized as growing pains. I am hopeful that once there is time to adjust, we will have a level of service that meets everyone’s needs,” the mayor further added.
Currently, two other shelters in the area: 3030 Gordon Ave. in Coquitlam and an emergency shelter in a Coquitlam hotel. Both are at capacity, while a rotating shelter at Coquitlam churches is not yet running this year for lack of a provider.
Macdonald said the lack of local housing opportunities has meant the Port Moody extreme shelter has become critical for meeting the need, especially during the recent rain storms.
“We have been very busy since opening nearly reaching capacity on a number of nights and this demand is largely a reflection of the lack of other EWR or winter shelters currently open across the Tri-Cities. When we are not open people have no where to go and unfortunately are showing up looking for shelter and assistance,” Macdonald said.
Meanwhile, the Port Moody shelter only opens when weather is bad.
“This shelter is part of the provincial Extreme Weather Response (EWR) program which provides indoor shelter for those who are unhoused during life-threatening weather events including temperatures below zero, high winds and/or heavy rainfall,” stated Phoenix Society spokesperson Amy Reid in an email to the Tri-City News.
“This shelter opens when these conditions are met, and an Extreme Weather Alert is activated. The EWR program is a provincially funded initiative that officially runs from Nov. 1 to March 31 and in past years, similar operations have been open an average of 60 nights per season in Tri-Cities,” Reid rather stated.
And while volunteers are not yet needed to help out, as they were when the Extreme Weather Response (EWR) shelter formerly operated at Trinity United Church in Port Coquitlam, donations of warm weather gear would be appreciated, Reid said. Among the items being sought are:
- Winter/rain jackets
- Winter boots
- Hand/foot warmers
Donations can be dropped off at SureStay Hotel (725 Brunette Ave.) weekdays between noon and 10 p.m. Call 604-916-4460 upon arrival.
Monetary donations can also be made online: https://donate-can.keela.co/extreme-weather-shelter.
- with files from Mario Bartel, Tri-City News