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Lack of staff forces Sooke emergency shelter to close during extreme weather

Move highlights the need for stable funding, says local politician
The Hope Centre at 6626 Sooke Rd. Sooke was forced to close its emergency homeless shelter on Wednesday night. (File - Black Press Media)

Sooke was forced to close its emergency homeless shelter on Wednesday night (Feb. 22) despite an extreme weather warning due to snowfall and cold temperatures.

A staff shortage prevented the Sooke Shelter Society from opening its emergency weather shelter at the Capital Regional District building in Otter Point.

Much of the province is under an extreme weather warning, with Arctic outflows affecting most regions in B.C.

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Sooke Shelter Society operations manager Kristie Miller said two specially-trained staff members are needed to operate the shelter and were unavailable Wednesday. Due to meetings, the CRD office was also closed on Tuesday night.

An average of six unhoused individuals use the Sooke Sooke emergency weather shelter when it is open.

With the closure of the Sooke emergency weather shelter, space is available in other areas of the Capital Region, but demand often outstrips the supply of beds.

Coun. Jeff Bateman, council’s representative on the Sooke Homelessness Coalition that advocates for the Sooke Shelter Society, said so many demands are placed on limited resources.

Bateman said more provincial funding beyond the basic B.C. Housing grant is needed to ensure stable long-term funding is in place so that the shelter society can retain enough on-call staff.

On Wednesday, Sooke Shelter staff at the Hope Centre distribute blankets, sleeping bags, socks and wax heating lamps to those in need, Miller said.

One individual with a blanket and sleeping bag stayed under the heat lamp in the parking area of the shelter. Another half-dozen known individuals who sleep rough (either in cars, tents or at a family friend’s place) were accounted for by shelter staff.

Sooke’s emergency weather shelter is expected to open tonight (Feb. 23).

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Kevin Laird

About the Author: Kevin Laird

It's my passion to contribute to the well-being of the community by connecting people through the power of reliable news and storytelling.
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