A group of community service providers say a temporary and extreme weather shelter is now ready to open in Sooke through the combined efforts of B.C. Housing, the Capital Regional District, District of Sooke, the Sooke Shelter Society, paramedics and others. The shelter will open when the weather triggers like extreme cold and rain conditions occur.
”Our Place Society is once again offering administrative support. They have the expertise of how to operate a shelter, and they supervise the site and pay the staff through a combined effort of all the partners,” Jenn Wilde, regional director of the Greater Victoria Extreme Weather Protocol, said.
Last year it was Juan de Fuca Electoral Area director Mike Hicks who stepped up and opened up the space at 7450 Butler Rd. as an extreme weather shelter when no other location could be found in the community.
That facility will continue to be opened to the community’s homeless until another location can be found, Hicks said.
“We can’t just leave these people out in the cold,” he said.
The location of the CRD facility has presented some challenges as it is difficult for homeless people to access.
To solve that problem, the Sooke Shelter Society has developed a nightly shuttle service from their Crisis Centre location at 2043 Church Rd. – a service that returns the homeless clients to the centre in the morning.
“We’re activly searching for a more substantial, more accessible location for a seasonal shelter right now and are willing to entertain a number of options,” Wilde said.
Those options could include the donation of a parcel of land where a temporary trailer could be placed to provide shelter in extreme weather conditions.
“We’re hopeful that someone may come forward to offer up some land, or that some organization will choose to offer up an existing building, ” Wilde said.
She added that she’s happy that the level of involvement of all the partners working on the issue has increased substantially, even from a year ago.
“This has become a real community effort,” Wilde said.
Another initiative of the Sooke Shelter Society and the Extreme Weather Protocol is the placement of laminated signs in Sooke businesses, advising people of when the weather triggers cause the shelter to open and become operational.
“We’re also looking for the donation of warm clothing such as coats, footwear, hats and scarves. We’re trying to equip people to make it through the winter months,” Wilde said.
Anyone with clothing donations can contact Sherri Thompson of the Sooke Shelter Society by emailing her at firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling 250 858 7700.