The Salvation Army has received money from the provincial government to add five beds during the winter months at the Pidcock emergency shelter in Courtenay.
“We’ve got the go-ahead from the Province to increase our numbers (of cold, wet weather beds) from 15 to 20,” community ministries director Brent Hobden said.
The cold weather beds are available from Nov. 1 to the end of March. Normally, the shelter at 632 Pidcock Ave. contains 18 beds and six transition units, which came into being early spring after extensive renovations to the building.
“I think we’re well-suited in the Valley to look after the people,” Hobden said. “It’s not enough to fill all of the holes, but it’s a good improvement over what we had last year…It should be enough to meet the needs that we have. The province has really stepped up and helped us out. What a blessing having this EWR (Extreme Weather Response).”
In 2017, the Sally Ann was covered for 15 beds, but on occasion could squeeze in 19 people at the shelter. With the additional space, Hobden hopes no one will need to be turned away during cold, wet weather.
He said the shelter has yet to turn away anyone during an EWR. Though Wednesday morning was freezing, the EWR was not activated.
During October, Hobden said the shelter, on average, housed 16-plus people. Though it’s an 18-bed shelter, empty beds are likely to be located on the women’s floor, which means some men had to be turned away.
In May, June and July, shelter numbers were higher than in August, September and October. The numbers start to pick up in November and December.
This year to date, the shelter has turned away 1,513 people due to a lack of space. It has served 10,915 meals, and had 4,701 beds booked, as of the end of October.
On Tuesday, Nov. 13, the Sally Ann Christmas hamper program begins.