While people in many of the 91 participating cities across Canada braved sub-zero temperatures for the annual Coldest Night of the Year walk, Parksville’s inaugural walk was treated to 12 C and sun.
Hosted by the Island Crisis Care Society and supported by the Oceanside Task Force On Homelessness, the Saturday night event raised an estimated $3 million nationally and around $25,000 locally but it will take a while to get exact figures, organizers said.
Starting and finishing at Knox United Church with a rest stop at Pacific Brimm, around 150 walkers and 30 volunteers took part in two, five and ten kilometre route options.
The top team, captained by Mary Beil, raised $3,900, followed by $2,900 from the Oceanside Newcomers Alumni Association and $2,750 from the Movers and Shakers.
Al Grier raised the most as an individual, at $2,070, but he gave the credit to his supporters and the Panters hockey team.
“All of the money raised in our community (minus the cost of running the walk) will stay in Oceanside and be used to help our most vulnerable to access and maintain housing,” task force coordinator Sarah Poole previously said.
The money will go to initiatives like a rental subsidy, outreach worker and working towards a permanent shelter.
Parksville-Qualicum MLA and Minister of Social Development and Social Innovation Michelle Stilwell was on hand to help launch the walk and pointed out that all communities are touched by homelessness.
The area currently only has an extreme weather shelter which opens from 6 p.m. to 8 a.m., with short notice, on particularly bad nights at the Salvation Army Church at 187 Alberni Highway in Parksville. Call 250-954-3082 to see if it is open.
Visit www.iccare.ca or https://coldestnightoftheyear.org/location/oceanside to register and get more information.
For photos from Parksville’s Coldest Night of the Year Walk, visit www.pqbnews.com.