More shelter beds available as Victoria’s cold spell continues for the week

More shelter beds available as Victoria's cold spell continues for the week

WATCH: The Capital Region got its first taste of snow this winter Sunday night, just a dusting and while much of it melted away Monday, the cold temperatures continue to linger and that means being ready, especially for those helping the most vulnerable. Luisa Alvarez reports

The frozen fountain on the B.C. legislature lawn is not a sight often seen here in Victoria and it’s a moment worth capturing just a week after the city was blooming.

While the skies were clear and sunny Monday, a day after the first snowfall of the year, the temperatures told a colder tale. It was -2 C for most of the day in the capital city, with the wind chill making it feel like -8 C.

And according to Environment Canada, this snappy winter weather is expected to stay at least for the week.

With sub-zero temperatures expected overnight its the city’s most vulnerable that are feeling the cold in the most unimaginable way.

“I’ve got some nerve damage in my hands the colder. They get the sorer they are,” said Dale Hanson, who is living on the streets.

“Yeah the wind really does go through our clothes,” said Samuel James Stewart.

During the day, Our Place is where people like Stewart and Hanson can go to keep warm, get a cup of coffee and stay out of the elements but it’s overnight when conditions hit below zero that really puts them at risk.

“If you are huddled in a corner and the windchill comes up, people freeze to death quite easily with hypothermia,” said Our Place Society’s Grant MacKenzie.

The Extreme Weather Protocol has been initiated due to the weather and that means more shelter beds but MacKenzie says even with the extra space,  they’re at capacity every night.

“We have room for 30 extra people in here and we have room for another 30 in various other facilities we are running so we can get another 30 people out of the cold tonight and it will be full, they fill up very quickly,” said MacKenzie.

So they do what they can to make sure as many people as possible have a bed for the night.

“We have our van set up and if we fill up and we know there is a shelter space somewhere else like the Native Friendship Centre then we can bus people,” said MacKenzie.

But with more bodies than beds, it’s inevitable some will have to wait out the cold spell outside.

“We are always looking for additional financial donations or donations of blankets and warm clothes and gloves and especially waterproof clothing,” said MacKenzie.

Donations can be dropped off directly to Our Place Society on Pandora Street.

Luisa AlvarezLuisa Alvarez

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