The Comox Valley Regional District and its regional partners are asking the community to help out and provide an extreme weather shelter for fall and winter.
The regional district says the locations it usually uses for extreme weather shelters in the colder months are unavailable this year.
Extreme weather shelters generally open when temperatures drop to near zero or below, there is snow accumulation or freezing rain, or if there is extremely heavy rainfall.
The CVRD says that if an extreme weather shelter space is identified, funding would be available for the owner through the provincial Extreme Weather Response program.
“From approximately November 1 to March 31, we’re looking for a suitable space to support individuals who are unhoused with necessary shelter and care as we enter the cold and rainy season,” said CVRD board chair Jesse Ketler.
“We are now facing a season without additional shelter beds to bring people inside from the cold. We’re hoping the community can come together in a time of need,” she said.
A suitable location for an extreme weather shelter must include a dry, secure space that is at least 1,500 square feet and have two washrooms.
Ideally, the location would also have two spaces to support different client needs, with each space accommodating 20 to 40 people. A kitchen space would also be ideal, but not required.
The location would need to be available for days between Nov. 1 and March 31, from 8 p.m. to 8 a.m.
“The approaching winter could mean life or death for those without a place of their own,” said Courtenay Mayor Bob Wells in a release Thursday.
“We’ve heard heartbreaking stories from people who’ve suffered from hypothermia, frostbite, and pneumonia, all of which are completely preventable. That’s why the shortage of extreme weather shelter space this year is an all-hands-on-deck situation,” he said.
Anyone who thinks they may have a suitable location is asked to contact Angela Fletcher with the Comox Valley Coalition to End Homelessness at [email protected] or 250-218-3752.
The CVRD is working with the Comox Valley Coalition to End Homelessness and the K’ómoks First Nation in the search for an extreme weather shelter space.
The CVRD adds that most of the people who reported being homeless in the community had lived in the region for more than five years.