The Bread of Life hopes to open its warming centre in Port Alberni on Dec. 4, pending a final visit from a health inspector.
“We’re in the final stages, arranging tables and getting the place cleaned up so we’ll do a soft opening on Friday,” spokesperson John Edmondson said.
The facility on Third Avenue has been closed to the public since March due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Work crews have been in the Third Avenue building for the past few weeks renovating both the main room and what used to be used as a pantry in order to create seating for a maximum of 40 people at a time.
The warming centre will be available for people to get off the streets and out of inclement weather, have a warm drink and use a bathroom. Meals will not be served from the Bread of Life as they have been in the past. The COVID-19 response team has been using the Bread of Life kitchen to make meals that are then distributed daily via the Salvation Army’s mobile kitchen truck.
Food will be available from the present kitchen truck schedule, to keep the gathering of people at the warming centre to a minimum, Edmondson said.
Tables at the warming centre will allow for two people to sit across from each other, and plexiglass dividers will be affixed across the centre of the table to protect patrons as per provincial COVID-19 protocols.
“It looks really nice inside,” Salvation Army Captain Michael Ramsay said. Ramsay is part of the group working to open the warming centre. “We’re just waiting on the plexiglass dividers. With those, and the health inspection, and Dr. Bonnie (Henry, B.C.’s medical health officer) not changing all the rules between now and Friday, we’re good to go.”
A manager and cleaner have both been hired for the warming centre, which will be open Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays from noon to 4 p.m. for now. Organizers will reassess after a first week of operation and possibly extend the number of days the centre will be open.
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