Could Port Moody’s Kyle Centre become a warming shelter for the homeless?

Facility would provide emergency service that has been discontinued by two other providers.

Port Moody’s Kyle Centre could become a warming shelter for homeless people looking to get out of the cold winter weather.

In a report to be presented to council on Tuesday, Ron Higo, the city’s acting general manager of community services, said the 42-year-old facility has been identified by staff as the most suitable location for a pilot program to run from January to March 2021.

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Higo’s report said the Kyle Centre is close to transit routes, has a large interior space and kitchen to allow for physical distancing as well as multiple bathrooms. It’s also close to Eagle Ridge Hospital, is equipped with chairs and tables, and is already regularly maintained by staff. 

Higo said the warming centre would be able to host a maximum of eight people between the hours of 9 a.m. and 7 p.m. It would be operational when temperatures reach 0°C, when rainfall makes it difficult for people living outside to stay dry, or when there are high winds.

Higo said the pilot project would cost $43,941, based upon 60 days of occupancy, including the cost of food like pre-made sandwiches and non-perishable snacks such as granola bars and hot chocolate. More than half the budget — $31,500 — would pay for two shelter workers and a part-time administrator.

In his report, Higo admitted daytime art classes that currently use the centre would have to close when it’s being used as a warming shelter. 

“Last-minute closure of Kyle Centre to these programs will have a negative impact upon their revenue and customer satisfaction,” he said.

Higo said COVID-19 restrictions have made it difficult for existing warming shelters in the Tri-Cities to operate. Hope for Freedom closed its program because it couldn’t abide to physical distancing requirements; an overflow shelter operated by Trinity Church in Port Coquitlam also closed out of concern it couldn’t handle a potential increase in demand.

“There is currently no daytime warming shelter program offered for homeless community members in the Tri-Cities,” Higo said, adding other options were considered like converting event tents already owned by the city. 

But tents pose a fire risk, he said.

In October, a developer seeking to build a six-storey rental complex across the street from Kyle Centre pitched a proposal to refurbish the structure in exchange for consideration of a project larger than the planned 148 units in the project. The centre has been in need of major repairs as far back as 2013, and protective tarps cover much of its roof.

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