Responders to the rescue when mercury plunges

When snow, sub-zero temperatures, rain, or harsh winds hit the Valley, many of us curl up with a hot cup of coffee and a good book.

When snow, sub-zero temperatures, rain, or harsh winds hit the Valley, many of us curl up with a hot cup of coffee and a good book.

Thankfully, a dedicated group of organizations maintain emergency housing for the homeless.

The combination of extreme cold and driving wet rain or snow can pose a threat to the health and safety of our vulnerable homeless population. Five years ago, this concern brought the Extreme Weather Response (EWR) into effect in the Comox Valley.

The Comox Valley’s extreme weather shelter beds are funded

through BC Housing’s Extreme Weather Response Program. This provincial program enables communities to temporarily increase emergency shelter capacity.

These program funds are limited to extreme weather from Nov. 1

to March 31. The Assistance to Shelter Act, which became law in

B.C. in 2009, gives the RCMP the ability to assist a homeless person on the street during an extreme weather situation by bringing them to a shelter or connecting them with a shelter worker.

EWR’s temporary Extreme Weather Shelter is operated through the Salvation Army’s year-round emergency shelter on Pidcock Avenue in Courtenay.

Additional beds are made available when the Extreme Weather Response is activated. This helps ensure that safe overnight housing happens quickly, and in a way that people lacking

transportation or social skills can easily access its service.

When the EWR is activated, the message is fanned out to the many

organizations throughout the Valley in contact with homeless individuals. It is also posted on the EWR website at www.comoxvalleyewp.com.

These organizations include the RCMP, St. Joseph’s Hospital, the Salvation Army, CV Transition Society, Canadian Red Cross, AIDS Vancouver Island, the Wachiay Friendship Centre, the Northgate Foursquare Church and Cold Weather Outreach.

Last year, with the increased number of high-wind days in March, the wind chill dropped well below zero and the EWR was called several days. When the sun was shining during the day, the wind whipped wildly at night; it was a busy time for the three volunteers

who daily tried to predict the weather and the need to activate or deactivate EWR’s status.

During the 2011-2012 winter season, 164 EWR bed nights were catalogued during the 80 days that EWR was called (up from 51 days the previous year). The average nightly stay was 2.1 persons.

Separate from EWR, the year-round Pidcock House Emergency Shelter has 11 beds for men and six beds for women. It also has a welcoming dining room where breakfast and supper is served.

The Comox Valley’s Extreme Weather Response shelter can take up to 30 persons aged 19 and older. Overflow from the Salvation Army shelter have previously been housed at the Northgate Foursquare Church). Minors, under the age of 19 must be referred to the Ministry of Children and Families.

Due to the cold weather circumstances that led to providing Extreme Weather Shelter beds, clients are not asked to leave without offering an alternative shelter option when EWR is in effect.

— Comox Valleyʼs Extreme Weather Protocol

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

The Comox Valley Cycling Coalition is hoping to see more bike lines in the Cumberland area. Photo by Mike Chouinard
Cycling coalition wants better bike links for Cumberland

Group says members want more connections with Comox Valley

The Courtenay Legion has identified 16 homeless veterans living in the Comox Valley. File photo
Courtenay Legion unites with Qualicum to help homeless veterans

Last year’s Point-in-Time (PIT) homeless count conducted in the Comox Valley identified… Continue reading

Proceeds from the sale of this 36x18” image of a grizzly bear in the water, by local photographer Viktor Davare, will go to the Salvation Army. Photo supplied.
Comox Valley Photographic Society showcased at next Pearl Ellis exhibit

Exhibit to double as a fundraiser for the Salvation Army

Shelter Point Distillery won several Canadian Whisky Awards this year, including a gold for best single malt. Facebook photo
Vancouver Island’s Shelter Point Distillery wins gold for single malt

Business won nine medals at recent Canadian Whisky Awards virtual ceremony

Comox Valley-raised Shay Sandiford has earned a spot on the Canada skateboard team. Facebook
Courtenay skateboarder selected to first-ever national team

A young man from Courtenay is among 12 athletes who have been… Continue reading

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Activists from the Fairy Creek Blockades hold the injunction application notice which was submitted by logging company Teal Jones to the B.C. Supreme Court. The application, which asks to have blockaders removed from the sites that stop access to cut blocks, is set to be heard on March 4. (Photo contributed/Joshua Wright)
Activists hunker down to protect Fairy Creek near Port Renfrew from logging

Forest company Teal Cedar applies for injunction to remove seven-month-old blockades

(Photo by Marissa Baecker/Shoot the Breeze)
B.C. WHL teams to hit the ice with Kelowna, Kamloops hub cities

Kelowna, Kamloops centres chosen to host B.C. WHL teams for 24-game regular season

The victim of the homicide on Cowichan Lake Road early Monday morning was 17 years old, and was stabbed in the incident. (File photo)
Duncan homicide victim was 17 years old

RCMP report that teenager was stabbed

(File photo)
RCMP arrest man after report of gun-toting threat-maker near Parksville schools

43-year-old man taken into custody; students at nearby schools were asked to stay inside

The machines are akin to ATMs and allow drug users at risk of overdose to get hydromorphone pills dispensed to them after their palm has been scanned to identify its unique vein pattern. (CANADIAN PRESS)
Feds dole out $3.5M for ‘vending machines’ to dispense safer opioids in B.C.

Vancouver and Victoria both have a MySafe machine to help reduce overdoses

Kelowna’s lakefront visitor centre is one of 130 around the province. Tourism businesses have been hardest hit by COVID-19 restrictions on travel. (Destination B.C.)
Tourism, small business getting COVID-19 help, B.C. minister says

$300M grant program has delivered $50 million so far

The incident happened in downtown Castlegar. Photo: Betsy Kline
Castlegar teen recounts stabbing after stranger breaks into grandmother’s house

The unnamed teen survived a terrifying attack Feb. 21

Most Read