Sherry Thompson of the Sooke Shelter Society says that the refusal of any of Sooke’s churches or service groups to host an extreme weather shelter is putting the region’s homeless at risk. (Tim Collins/Sooke News Mirror)

Lack of shelter puts Sooke homeless at risk

Shelter Society gets nothing but rejections for extreme weather shelter

Imagine for a moment that you are one of the many homeless people in Sooke.

Now imagine the temperature has dropped below freezing and winter has gripped the region.

In Sooke, there is no shelter available and you will be left to your own devices to survive.

RELATED: Shelter Society works to help homeless

It’s a situation Sherry Thompson of the Sooke Shelter Society said is unacceptable and she and a group of volunteers are working to fix the situation.

“There really hasn’t been an extreme weather shelter in Sooke since the Baptist church pulled out of providing the service a few years ago, and we’ve been unable to find another location,” Thompson said.

RELATED: Learn about the Sooke Shelter Society

The group is working with the staff of the Extreme Weather Protocol to try to address the problem.

The protocol is a community program involving various faith groups, social service agencies, fire, and police working together to provide shelter spaces during acute winter weather conditions of heavy wind, snow, rain and temperatures below 0 Celsius.

“I really don’t want to criticize the (Baptist) church, but we need to start the community talking about the situation to recognize that our perception around the homeless and our fears around homelessness are largely unfounded. Those fears are, in part, why we have the problem in the first place,” said Jen Wilde, regional coordinator of the Greater Victoria Extreme Weather Response Program.

Those fears and perceptions of the homeless were on full display during the discussions with the Baptist church.

“We approached the church again, but, after a lot of meetings, those discussions ended and the church said they weren’t prepared to take on the project,” said Thompson. “They said that they’d pray for us, but they were concerned about their children. It’s all part of the stigma that the homeless face.”

She was quick to add that not every member of the church council was against opening the church to the homeless during bad weather but that, in the end, concerns about drug and alcohol use won out over the appeals of the shelter society.

“They were willing to consider running it as a high-barrier shelter in which everyone coming in would be searched and their packs would be searched and confiscated until they left. Also, once they (the homeless) checked in, they wouldn’t be allowed to leave until the morning,” said Thompson.

That approach would run counter to the guidelines for such shelters and would severely curtail funding for the project.

Thompson explained that her group has approached other churches in the community as well as organizations such as the legion and the Sooke Community Association, but has been turned down by them all.

“It’s a real shame because I really thought we’d be allowed back into the church and put out a request (to the community) for supplies and we got them all … everything we need. But then it all fell through,” said Thompson.

The Baptist Church did not respond to requests for comment.

Mayor Maya Tait said that she had run a stakeholder’s meeting in September in an effort to find a way to address the situation.

“This situation is really unacceptable. We’re better than this. We need to work together as a community to provide something for those in need in a community as wonderful as Sooke,” said Tait.



mailto:tim.collins@sookenewsmirror.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Just Posted

Sooke Santa Run 2019 an inspiration

Loads of food for the food bank and a lot of smiles

500 pounds of turkey served at Cool Aid community Christmas dinner

Annual dinner serves hundreds of community members

VIDEO: Annual Tuba Christmas concert draws large crowd to Market Square

Over 100 tuba and euphonium players gathered to play festive tunes

Revisit Christmas past as Point Ellice House displays Victorian-era traditions

Antique bobbles, cards, decor and more are on display

Bold and brassy quintet touches down at UVic

Internationally recognized Canadian Brass performing with Victoria Symphony on Dec. 21

VIDEO: Success of wildlife corridors in Banff National Park has advocates wanting more

Demand for more highway protection escalated after seven elk were killed by a semi-trailer near Canmore

Fans sing Canadian anthem after sound system breaks at BMW IBSF World Cup

The Canadians in attendance made sure their team and flag were honoured on the podium

VIDEO: Fire destroys Big White Ski Resort chalet

Social media eulogies peg the property, nicknamed “The Pharamacy,” as both loved and hated

Prince George RCMP use bait packages to catch porch pirates over the holidays

First-in-Canada program with Amazon looks to combat parcel theft

Nanaimo mechanical engineer creates thief tracking program

Nanaimo Thief Tracking lets users plot and share information about thefts online

Mayor wants B.C. to institutionalize severely mental ill people who are homeless

Those suffering from mental health conditions, such as schizophrenia, need specialized care, mayor says

Five things of note from Trudeau’s mandate letters to his ministers

Some marching orders come from the Liberal Party’s campaign, while others are new additions

Scheer’s resignation tips party into internal war over school tuition payments

The Conservatives have a Toronto convention already scheduled for April

Navigating ‘fever phobia’: B.C. doctor gives tips on when a sick kid should get to the ER

Any temperature above 38 C is considered a fever, but not all cases warrant a trip to the hospital

Most Read