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‘Spreading word,’ key as free food, bedding, toiletries on offer at Coquitlam shelter

Guests get well cared for at the shelter but few are showing up despite cold weather; Phoenix Society and outreach workers are ramping up efforts to let people know the program is available
A shelter is open during cold weather in Coquitlam and the Phoenix Society is looking to spread the word.

Outreach workers are putting in an extra effort to let people who are camping in the woods know about a shelter available at a Coquitlam church.

Only about two to three people each night have been taking advantage of the offer for a mat to sleep on, a hot meal, hot chocolate, lunch, toiletries and other items since the Extreme Weather Response shelter opened Saturday night during the weekend snowfall.

But a spokesperson for the Phoenix Society says efforts are being made to “spread the word about our opening to those who need us most.”

As many as 20 beds are available at the shelter — a partnership between Phoenix Society, the city of Coquitlam and BC Housing — which is run out of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Coquitlam at 3345 Robson Dr.

It will be open nightly when extreme weather alerts are activated from 8 p.m. to 7 a.m., providing mats for both men and women.

According to Phoenix, the shelter is open tonight, Wednesday, Feb. 17.

“We’ve been putting up posters in the area and Hope for Freedom Society is providing transportation to and from our shelter at two locations: Pick up happens around 7:30 p.m. on nights we are called to open at Lyon’s Park (parking lot, near the picnic tables) and at Lafarge Lake-Douglas SkyTrain Station,” according to the spokesperson.

While the shelter is open tonight, the opening is always dependent on the regional co-ordinator determining if the weather alert is to remain in effect.  

Guests who come to the shelter are provided with a hot meal and hot chocolate at night, breakfast to go in the morning along with fresh socks, toiletries, a jacket and a backpack filled with essential items.

For more information or to find out if the shelter is open, call 236-858-2277.

The shelter opened on Saturday after awareness of the issue prompted churches to offer space, a provider was found and the program approved.