Our Home on 8th, the Port Alberni Shelter that opened in March 2019, has 27 extra ‘extreme weather’ spaces for people who need a place to get out of the cold. (SUSAN QUINN/ Alberni Valley News)

Our Home on 8th, the Port Alberni Shelter that opened in March 2019, has 27 extra ‘extreme weather’ spaces for people who need a place to get out of the cold. (SUSAN QUINN/ Alberni Valley News)

Port Alberni’s shelter prepares to house homeless during upcoming cold snap

Environment Canada is forecasting sub-zero weather and possible flurries for Vancouver Island

The Port Alberni Shelter Society is prepared for cold weather next week, offering extra beds for people living on the street.

Executive director Wes Hewitt activated the extreme weather response in November after looking at December’s forecast, and said he hasn’t deactivated it. Environment Canada is forecasting sub-zero temperatures for Port Alberni the week of Jan. 13–16 with the possibility of more snow.

BC Housing’s Extreme Weather Response (EWR) program provides individuals and families in need with access to a warm, dry place to sleep during extreme weather conditions between the beginning of November and the end of March.

Each community decides on a local basis when to issue an Extreme Weather Alert based on current conditions and local forecasts determining when locations will be open and the number of spaces available. There is an Extreme Weather Response Shelter map available showing locations of shelters throughout the province.

“In previous years we’ve operated 15 spaces,” he said, which are above and beyond those already offered at the shelter. “It looked like the 15 weren’t going to be enough this year in December, so BC Housing and ourselves got together and upped our capacity by 12.”

That means the shelter on Eighth Avenue, called Our Home on 8th, can offer 27 additional beds for people to get out of the cold.

The sobering site on Fifth Avenue, at Phoenix House, has an additional four beds—these are operated by Island Health, Hewitt said.

“At night the extra beds are open. During the day the OPS (overdose prevention site) and outreach site on Third Avenue is open and people are welcome to go there.”

The homelessness count that was conducted in 2018 noted there were 147 people without homes in Port Alberni, Hewitt said. BC Housing will fund a new homelessness count in spring 2020, he added.

Port Alberni Mayor Sharie Minions said Director of Parks, Recreation and Heritage Willa Thorpe will coordinate with the shelter society, Salvation Army, Canadian Mental Health Association and Island Health “in regards to plans being put in place to provide warming centres for those that need it.”

She noted in a social media post that she has also asked the Alberni-Clayoquot Regional District, which looks after emergency response for the region, to contact the province for a task number for any expenses the city might incur.

Hewitt said a ‘warming centre’ such as those that open in larger cities are fine for urban centres, but probably wouldn’t work in Port Alberni. “I don’t think designating a building as a warming centre will see the usage that it would in Toronto, Vancouver or Calgary, or city centres like that,” he said.

There are public buildings open during the day like the Bread of Life on Third Avenue, Echo Centre and the library where people can go and warm up, he said.

“It’s been many years since we’ve had a fatality due to weather or hypothermia, and that fatality happened in August.”



susie.quinn@albernivalleynews.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

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

Just Posted

A health-care worker prepares a dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine at a UHN COVID-19 vaccine clinic January 7, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
Employers might be able to require COVID-19 vaccination from employees: B.C. lawyer

‘An employer must make the case’ using expert science, explains lawyer David Mardiros

On Aug. 26, 1947, a fire sparked in the lumber piles between Alberni Pacific Division sawmill and Alberni Plywood (located where Canal Waterfront Park is now). What resulted was a huge fire on Assembly Wharf One, where several buildings were gutted and stacks of lumber were burned. This photo is one of 24,000 contained in the Alberni Valley Museum’s digital archives, at https://portalberni.pastperfectonline.com. (PHOTO PN07386 COURTESY ALBERNI VALLEY MUSEUM)
LOOK BACK: 1947 fire destroys Port Alberni wharf

Take a peek into the Alberni Valley’s history with the Alberni Valley Museum

Artist Jim Holyoak’s installation “Quagmire.” Holyoak will be the first speaker for the Artist Talk Online Winter 2021 series. (SUBMITTED PHOTO)
North Island College Artist Talk goes online for winter 2021

The series invites contemporary Canadian artists to speak about their professional practice

(NEWS FILE PHOTO)
City of Port Alberni, ACRD prepare for compost collection in 2021

Roadside pickup is expected to begin in the City of Port Alberni in June 2021

U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders sits in on a COVID-19 briefing with Dr. Bonnie Henry, provincial health officer, and Adrian Dix, B.C. minister of health. (Birinder Narang/Twitter)
PHOTOS: Bernie Sanders visits B.C. landmarks through the magic of photo editing

Residents jump on viral trend of photoshopping U.S. senator into images

A woman injects herself with crack cocaine at a supervised consumption site Friday, Jan. 22, 2021 in Ottawa. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Drug users at greater risk of dying as services scale back in second wave of COVID-19

It pins the blame largely on a lack of supports, a corrupted drug supply

Wet’suwet’en supporters and Coastal GasLink opponents continue to protest outside the B.C. Legislature in Victoria, B.C., on Thursday, February 27, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
‘We’re still in it’: Wet’suwet’en push forward on rights recognition

The 670-km Coastal GasLink pipeline was approved by B.C. and 20 elected First Nations councils on its path

The sky above Mt. Benson in Nanaimo is illuminated by flares as search and rescuers help an injured hiker down the mountain to a waiting ambulance. (Photo courtesy Nanaimo Search and Rescue)
Search plane lights up Nanaimo mountain with flares during icy rope rescue

Rescuers got injured hiker down Mt. Benson to a waiting ambulance Saturday night

Jennifer Cochrane, a Public Health Nurse with Prairie Mountain Health in Virden, administers the COVID-19 vaccine to Robert Farquhar with Westman Regional Laboratory, during the first day of immunizations at the Brandon COVID-19 vaccination supersite in Brandon, Man., on Monday, January 18, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Tim Smith - POOL
Top doctor urges Canadians to keep up with COVID measures, even as vaccines roll out

More than 776,606 vaccines have been administered so far

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

From the left: Midway RCMP Csts. Jonathan Stermscheg and Chris Hansen, Public Servant Leanne Mclaren and Cpl. Phil Peters. Pictured in the front are Mclaren’s dog, Lincoln and Peters’ dog, Angel. Photo courtesy of BC RCMP
B.C. Mounties commended for bringing firewood to elderly woman

Cpl. Phil Peters said he and detachment members acted after the woman’s husband went to hospital

Dr. Jerome Leis and Dr. Lynfa Stroud are pictured at Sunnybrook Hospital in Toronto on Thursday, January 21, 2021.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Frank Gunn
‘It wasn’t called COVID at the time:’ One year since Canada’s first COVID-19 case

The 56-year-old man was admitted to Toronto’s Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre

An Uber driver’s vehicle is seen after the company launched service, in Vancouver, Friday, Jan. 24, 2020. Several taxi companies have lost a court bid to run Uber and Lyft off the road in British Columbia. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Taxi companies lose court bid to quash Uber, Lyft approvals in British Columbia

Uber said in a statement that the ruling of the justice is clear and speaks for itself

Most Read