The Oceanside Extreme Weather Response Shelter was open for four nights during the first cold weather of the season last weekend, but only had a single person stay on the final night.
“It appears that’s going to be our biggest challenge, getting people in there,” said Debbie Tardiff of the Oceanside Task Force on Homelessness that runs the shelter with the Salvation Army.
Under the Assistance to Shelter Act, Tardiff issued the first Extreme Weather Alert of the season last Friday allowing the shelter to open.
It closed Tuesday and she said she didn’t know when it might open again, determined by the weather.
On Vancouver Island extreme weather is defined, among other parameters, as below -2 C, snow, sleet, or temperatures near zero with rain.
A task force survey found 20 homeless people in the area, but Tardiff said they have their own arrangements, like sleeping in tents in the forest they apparently don’t want to leave to use the shelter temporarily.
She said the task force is open to ideas on how best to help people and encourage them to use the shelter.
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. It is in the Salvation Army Church, 187 Alberni Highway in downtown Parksville.
For more information or to help the task force contact Tardiff at 250-954-3073 or firstname.lastname@example.org.