Cold weather shelter in Parksville turned 12 people away Thursday night

Cold weather shelter in Parksville turned 12 people away Thursday night

Since opening in January, a cold weather shelter in Parksville has seen more demand than it has space for.

The operators are having to turn people away regularly, even more people since the onset of this week’s cold weather.

On Tuesday night, a dozen people were left out in the cold, including Catherine Stimpson.

Raised in Qualicum Beach, the 29-year-old has been sleeping outdoors the past couple of nights under an alcove behind a business trying to stay warm a situation that’s become too common.

“Quite a bit actually, quite a bit, especially during untimely circumstances like the snow,” said Stimpson.

With temperatures dropping to minus seven degrees Celsius , Stimpson says she was among the people turned away from Parksville’s only cold weather shelter Wednesday night.

Risebridge, the facility operator says it had to turn a dozen people away last night for lack of space. Having opened in January it has funding, capacity and staff for 16 people.

Dave Harlow is one of the 16 who has been staying at the shelter.

“They were turning people away and it was heartbreaking. These are human beings,” said Harlow. “These are people that deserve to be warm to have shelter.”

Risebridge has also opened its Nanaimo facility during the extreme weather this week and experienced an influx of people.

“Overcapacity both nights and probably again tonight,” said Alex Martino, a Director with Risebridge.

It’s housed 60 people here each night. The opioid crisis making the situation that much worse.

“We have had to administer naloxone to 12 different people in the past two days so the past two overnight days we’ve had 12 overdoses to deal with either in the area or someone reacting on the property,” said Martino.

Martino said staff calls BC Ambulance each time but it says more support is needed.

Stimpson says there should be enough shelters so that she and others aren’t left sleeping on the street.

In December Parksville City Council gave the green light to the city’s first low-barrier warming shelter.

Kendall HansonKendall Hanson

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