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Extreme weather shelter opens for Comox Valley homeless
The Comox Valley Extreme Weather Protocol has been activated for those seeking shelter from the elements.
Bed space is available for an additional 15 individuals at the Pidcock House emergency shelter in Courtenay, on top of the normal 18 spaces.
In times of extreme weather, an extra 30 beds will be made available at Northgate Foursquare Church in Courtenay, but only when the Salvation Army exceeds capacity at Pidcock.
"It (church) hasn't been used for a number of years because of how we've worked out this system," said Darryl Burry, lead pastor/executive director at the Sally Ann's Comox Valley Ministries.
A committee with representation from various organizations has developed an Extreme Weather Response Plan (EWR).
In previous years when EWR was declared at night, the Sally Ann would send people to the church if it ran out of beds.
"It was very inconvenient for everybody," Burry said.
This fall, Pidcock House has run out of space more often than normal. The shelter turned away 99 people in October.
"The challenge being, when those people were being turned away, EWR was not initiated," Burry said. "When EWR is not on, we have a maximum capacity that we can handle in the shelter with the staffing that we have. As soon as EWR's initiated, we have the capacity through additional funding to call in extra staff."
For EWR to be activated, the temperature must be near zero with rainfall that makes it difficult or impossible for homeless individuals to remain dry. Other conditions required for activation include sleet, snow accumulation, sustained high wind, and/or temperatures at or below -2 C. Feedback from clients at various facilities could also be considered.
For more information, visit www.comoxvalleyewp.com.
Pidcock House is located at 632 Pidcock Ave.