With permanent and temporary shelter beds at capacity, two community centres located just outside of the downtown Vancouver peninsula are being opened for two night as emergency homeless shelters.
The City of Vancouver has opened the doors at Britannia Community Centre on Commercial Drive and Creekside Community Centre at the Olympic Village for people who need a warm place to protect themselves from the cold. Both community centres will be open Saturday and Sunday, until 7 am the next day, with the help of staff and volunteers.
No cots will be set up at the community centres, but anyone with their own bedding can set-up inside the facilities. Both locations will offer hot drinks and water.
“The permanent and temporary shelters in Vancouver are at capacity and turning people away, and we need to take further steps to help keep people safe during the cold weather,” said Vancouver Mayor Gregor Robertson in a statement.
“The City and Park Board are working closely to do what we can, with the resources we have, to step in and help our most vulnerable residents who have no place to go.”
Robertson also noted that faith centres and churches are also opening their doors to those who seek a warm refuge. This includes the Khalsa Diwan Society in South Vancouver, which set up 20 shelter spaces for the night “within hours of being asked”.
Within the city of Vancouver, there are 956 permanent shelter beds, 195 temporary winter season shelter beds, and up to 234 emergency beds that open during extreme cold conditions.
The BC Coroners Service says at least three deaths in the province this month may have been related to the frigid weather.
According to Environment Canada, temperatures tonight will not be nearly as cold as the previous few nights when temperatures dipped to -8°C, and to -15°C with windchill factored in.
The forecast tonight calls for a low of -3°C and a windchill of -7°C, before the warming trend begins. Snowfall is expected to begin overnight and continue through late Sunday night. Between 10 cm and 20 cm of snow is expected to fall in Metro Vancouver during this period.
On Monday, temperatures will soar to 7°C and precipitation will transition into rainfall.