The Victoria Native Friendship Centre is one of 10 shelters open in Victoria. (Facebook/VNCF)

The Victoria Native Friendship Centre is one of 10 shelters open in Victoria. (Facebook/VNCF)

Extreme weather plan activated in Greater Victoria as temperatures fall below freezing

Sub-zero temperatures open more mats for homeless people to sleep indoors

As the temperature starts to dip below freezing, extreme weather shelters in Victoria are opening their doors.

The extreme weather shelters were activated on Dec. 3, with the temperature predicted to fall below zero all this week, including Thursday with a low of -3 degrees. On Tuesday, Dec. 4, a wind chill is expected to lower the temperature to minus six degrees.

Although the weather is expected to slightly warm up towards the end of the week, Environment Canada is forecasting rain through the weekend.

READ MORE: Additional data from Point-in-Time survey finds most homeless people are local

The Extreme Weather Response Plan (EWP) is activated when the weather is “severe enough to present a substantial threat to the life or health of homeless persons,” the 2018/19 plan states.

When the EWP is activated in Victoria, there are up to 465 spaces available in shelters, including a mix of beds and mats. Some locations are co-ed and welcome pets, such as the Cool Aid Society’s location at Rock Bay Landing. At Sandy Merriman House on Burdett Ave, it’s women only. Men-only spaces can be found at the Johnson Street Salvation Army Addictions and Recovery Centre.

There are currently six shelters open year-round in Victoria. Four temporary emergency shelters add 145 mats, and four extreme weather shelters create an additional 100 spaces (mats or beds) when the EWP is activated.

Most shelters require sign ups on location or by phone. The PHS seasonal shelter is available by referral only.

Space at shelters can be checked online at www.vewp.net.

READ MORE: Cost of homelessness far outweighs cost of housing says advocate


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