Comox Valley Emergency Program thanks community for support

Warming Centre hosted 370 visitors from Dec. 26 until Jan. 12

An Extreme Weather Warming Centre originally opened at the CVRD Civic Room before switching to Salvation Army Cornerstone and then to the Salvation Army Church. File photo

An Extreme Weather Warming Centre originally opened at the CVRD Civic Room before switching to Salvation Army Cornerstone and then to the Salvation Army Church. File photo

Unprecedented prolonged freezing temperatures prompted the Comox Valley Emergency Program to open a temporary Extreme Weather Warming Centre, which originally opened Dec. 26 – Jan. 2 at the CVRD Civic Room in Courtenay.

It provided a safe, dry overnight space from 8 p.m.-8 a.m. to under-housed members of the community. With extreme weather forecasted to continue, Emergency Management BC (EMBC) granted a funding extension. The service relocated to the Courtenay Salvation Army Cornerstone location Jan. 2-4, and then to the Salvation Army Church Jan. 5-12 to offer a more appropriate space and amenities. Onsite services and supports were delivered by Comox Valley Street Outreach and Community Cares Peer Outreach, with support from Safety Net Security at all three locations.

Local governments have been supporting the program. The City of Courtenay, Town of Comox, Village of Cumberland, the CVRD and the K’ómoks First Nation thank community partners, staff, businesses and volunteers who have supported the emergency response. They also wish to recognize organizations and programs that provide continuous support to the under-housed: CV Coalition to End Homelessness, Connect Warming Centre, Salvation Army, CV Community Health Network, Island Health, Indigenous Women’s Sharing Society, Sunday Station, and the local Emergency Responder and Fire Services community.

“Having trained outreach and peer support workers within a facility of this nature is essential as they are qualified to provide care,” said Howie Siemens, manager of emergency programs. “None of this would have been possible without the generosity of the local business community members who offered in-kind donations of fresh food, last minute essential supplies and services: Atlas Café, Aunty Toni’s Bannock, The Buddery House, The Butchers Block, Custom Gourmet, Comox Valley Dodge, Comox Valley Hospital, Subway, Comox Taxi Services, Domino’s Pizza, I-Hos Gallery, Kelly O’Bryan’s Restaurant Pub, Locals Restaurant, Nikkei Ramen-Ya, Starbucks, Thrifty Foods on Cliffe, Tidal Café, Tim Hortons on Ryan Road, and White Hat Commercial Cleaners. A special thanks is also needed for Cari McIntyre, CVRD Emergency Planning Coordinator, for providing leadership and essential collaboration with all our community partners and community members.”

“The compassion and thoughtfulness our community demonstrated helped so many individuals and saved lives. A big thank you to all the outreach and peer support workers who set aside their holiday time to join the on-site team, working long-shifts in harmony to support our community at the centres,” said Nicole Morrison, Outreach Services Coordinator for the Extreme Weather Warming Centre. “We are all so grateful to the generous citizens who donated and delivered much needed blankets, footwear, jackets, clothing, toques, gloves, hygiene kits, first aid supplies, games, puzzles, art supplies, and a special thank you to the kind soul who delivered hot breakfast sandwiches every morning.”

The Extreme Weather Warming Centre hosted 370 visitors from Dec. 26 until Jan. 12. Clientele ranged in years with a majority under 40, approximately 65 per cent identifying as male. Most were local to Comox Valley, some are employed locally and are unable to find a permanent safe place to live.

RELATED: Emergency shelters open in response to Comox Valley cold snap

Comox Valley Regional Districthomeless housingSevere weather

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