With temperatures dropping significantly in recent days, White Rock’s warming centre for those experiencing homelessness has re-opened for the community’s most vulnerable, offering access to emergency and essential resources.
The extreme weather shelter opened on Wednesday (Nov. 9) morning, and will operate until 10 p.m.
It will be open on especially cold days until March 2023.
Run by staff of Engaged Community of Canada Society and located in Centennial Park’s parking lot, the centre is re-opening after last winter’s pilot shelter saw 622 people use the space over the span of 34 days from February to March, according to a release from the city of White Rock.
In that short period of time, the centre provided 1,700 meals, connected six people to transitional or permanent housing and issued external health and social services, including 32 counselling sessions.
The services offered are “things that we all take for granted because we have homes. There’s people that will sadly lose appendages and toes due to frostbite and then once they get released from hospitals, they’re back on the streets trying to recover in the bitter cold,” said Upkar Tatlay, founder of Engaged Communities — a not-for-profit that addresses systemic gaps affecting under-served communities.
Last winter, many individuals would arrive at the warming centre in clothing that was either soaking wet or “completely inappropriate for the weather,” Tatlay recalled.
Up to 30 people can access the centre at a time, which will also collaborate with the emergency overnight shelter at Mount Olive Lutheran Church — which runs on nights where the temperature reaches or drops below the freezing mark.
“Ensuring safe refuge for everyone in our community during extreme weather events is a critical emergency service,” said Megan Knight, mayor of White Rock.
The city of White Rock has received a grant of $320,000 from the Union of BC Municipalities’ Strengthening Communities’ Services program to run the warming centre for the winter, which was announced in September. Any additional funding is being shared with the city of Surrey, reads the release.