The City of Vancouver says it will ensure the residents of Oppenheimer Park have more options to stay warm this winter by increasing warming centre capacity.
In a news release, the city says the Lookout Society’s Powell Street Getaway will remain open when temperatures hit 0°C or feel like 0°C. In the past, it only served as a warming centre when temperatures were at -5°C.
The centre will also be open tonight as part of an Extreme Weather Response activation.
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“We are pleased to be working with Lookout Society to provide warm spaces on a more regular basis for people who are sleeping outside,” said Celine Mauboules, City of Vancouver’s Director of Homelessness Services, in a statement.
“Based on last year’s extreme weather activations, we expect that by opening Powell Street Getaway when temperatures are at, or feel like, zero degrees we will double the number of times this warming centre opens.”
Located 100 metres away from Oppenheimer Park, the Powell Street Getaway also offers meals and safe consumption on site.
The Carnegie, Evelyne Saller, and Gathering Place community centres also offer low-cost meals, and free shower and laundry facilities to vulnerable residents.
The City of Vancouver says it remains concerned about the safety of those in the park as “people are continuing to take dangerous measures to try and stay warm,” despite a Fire Chief’s Order being placed in the park since February.
The city urges anyone who is sleeping outside on a cold night to stay in facilities such as Powell Street Getaway or to call 2-1-1 to find out about available shelter spaces.