Few users, but emergency shelter opens for winter blast

The turnout at the new Extreme Weather Response Shelter in Parksville is low, but less than two weeks old, it has been providing shelter for two people in the recent cold.

The shelter was established by the Oceanside Task Force on Homelessness and the Salvation Army last week, activated over the weekend with one client using the facility, closed Monday night and re-activated Tuesday with snow forecast.

The shelter in the Salvation Army Church, at 187 Alberni Highway, is only open when an extreme weather alert is issued and certain conditions are met.

Organizers decide by 10 a.m. if the weather is likely to be bad enough to need the shelter, which has 10 beds available and could accommodate more in an emergency.

A recent informal survey by the task force found 20 homeless people in the Oceanside area, but co-ordinator Debbie Tardiff said anecdotally, she heard that people were worried about leaving their usual campsites unattended overnight.

She also said it may just take a while for the word to get out and for people to start using the shelter.

Tuesday morning, according to the Assistance to Shelter Act, another weather alert was issued and it will be reassessed each morning and open as long as the cold weather remains.

The activation opens the shelter and allows police to assist people to get there.


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