Extreme weather shelter now open in Parksville

The Oceanside Task Force on Homelessness and the Society of Organized Services (SOS) announced last week that The Salvation Army will once again operate an extreme weather response shelter for the Oceanside region.

The extreme weather shelter is funded by B.C. Housing, the Regional District of Nanaimo Homelessness Action Fund, The Salvation Army and the Oceanside Task Force on Homelessness.

The shelter was available starting Nov. 1 and funding is in place until March 31, 2014.

Operated by The Salvation Army and housed in The Salvation Army Church at 187 Alberni Highway, Parksville, the shelter will be open from 6 p.m. until 8 a.m. on nights of inclement or extreme weather only.

Clients will be provided with cots, blankets, pillows and an evening meal and breakfast.

In the winter of 2012/13, the shelter was open a total of 36 nights due to snow and cold temperatures.

The protocol for the Oceanside region extreme weather shelter is standard for extreme weather shelters on the Island.  Implementation of the extreme weather response plan will be called when weather conditions are deemed severe enough to present a substantial threat to the life or health of homeless persons.

Extreme weather conditions are defined as:

• Temperatures near zero with rainfall that makes it difficult or impossible for homeless people to remain dry.

• Sleet/freezing rain.

• Snow accumulation.

• Sustained high winds.

• Temperatures at or below minus 2 Celsius, taking into account wind chill.

The Oceanside Task Force on Homelessness was formed in May 2010, with representation from provincial and municipal governments, and many organizations and service providers in the Oceanside region.

The Task Force is co-chaired by Malcolm Cox and Renate Sutherland, Executive Director of the SOS.

— NEWS Staff/SOS

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