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Community opens emergency shelter facility
An emergency shelter has been established for those cold, wet Oceanside winter nights.
Though people may not be aware, a recent survey by the Oceanside Task Force on Homelessness found around 20 homeless people in the area.
On Monday the task force announced the opening of an Extreme Weather Response Shelter funded by BC Housing, the Salvation Army and the group itself.
BC Housing will provide $325 in block funding for eight beds on days when the shelter is activated. The Salvation Army will provide in-kind services and the space in their church at 187 Alberni Highway in Parksville.
Task force chair Sue Powell said they will pick up any additional costs estimated at around $200 a day to shelter as many people as needed.
Aside from the eight main beds in the chapel there will be a small separate room for women or a family and they would accommodate as many as needed, including putting them up in hotels, as they already do.
They will follow a common protocol on Vancouver Island, determining when to activate the shelter, starting with discussions first thing in the morning and making the determination by 10 a.m. so they could get organized and get the word out to people who need shelter and to the various partner groups.
Extreme weather is defined, among other parameters, as below -2 C, a lot of snow, sleet, or temperatures near zero with rain.
They will post a sign on the door when the shelter is open and work with other social services in the region and the RCMP who will be able to point people to the shelter or give them a ride.
It will be open from 6 p.m. to 8 a.m. and provide beds, blankets, a hot evening meal and breakfast. They will have an 11 p.m. curfew but will not turn away stragglers in need.
Both local mayors stressed the important work of Robin and Sylvia Campbell who sparked the task force and highlighted the hard work of chairperson Sue Powell.