The Oceanside Task Force on Homelessness issued an Extreme Weather Alert (EWA) Friday which opens the emergency shelter in Parksville and activates police to help people get there.
Debbie Tardiff, designated as community representative for the task force under the Assistance to Shelter Act, issued the alert at 9 a.m. Friday morning for two nights based on some early morning snow and forecasts of a 40 per cent chance of flurries with lows of – 3 C for the rest of the day and – 2 C Saturday.
The shelter was established by the task force at the Salvation Army Church, 187 Alberni Highway in downtown Parksville, last February.
They follow the Island protocol in determining when to activate the shelter by 10 a.m. so they can get organized and get the word to partner groups and people who need shelter.
Extreme weather is defined, among other parameters, as below -2 C, a lot of snow, sleet, or temperatures of near zero degrees Celsius with rain.
A task force survey found 20 homeless people in the area and received funding approval for the shelter last February.
It was activated 11 times last year and used by one or two people, but the Salvation Army’s Major Rolf Guenther pointed out it was new and not very well known.
This year it is available to be activated from November 1 to March 31.
BC Housing provides $325 in block funding for eight beds on days when the shelter is activated. The Salvation Army provides in-kind services including the space and last year task force chair Sue Powell said they will pick up additional costs estimated at around $200 a day to shelter as many people as needed.
When activated it is open from 6 p.m. to 8 a.m. and provides beds, blankets, a hot evening meal and breakfast. They have an 11 p.m. curfew but will not turn away stragglers.