Robertson promises 200 new shelter beds
Published Wednesday, December 17, 2008 8:07AM PST
Last Updated Friday, May 18, 2012 6:45PM PDT
With plunging temperatures and a rare blanket of snow covering much of Vancouver, donations are coming in for the homeless.
At the Union Gospel Mission, a warm jacket from a local clothing company was welcome by the city's less fortunate.
"I feel comfortable. Very nice and very warm," said homeless man James Bridge.
The shelters are full, and many are remaining on the streets, refusing to come in. Shelter workers have been thinking of them, too.
"We had the mobile mission out last night going into the parks and under viaduct and various areas, make sure people are warm and had sleeping bags," said Rev. Bruce Curtiss of the Union Gospel Mission.
The province and the city have also teamed up to try and help the homeless in out of the biting cold.
With a rare blanket of snow covering much of Vancouver, the province and the city have teamed up to try and help the homeless in out of the biting cold.
Premier Gordon Campbell and Vancouver Mayor Gregor Robertson announced Tuesday the creation of as many as 200 more temporary shelter beds "virtually immediately."
Temperatures in southern B.C. have dropped into negative double digits, compared to normal seasonal temperatures that are above zero, forcing agencies that help the homeless to find more space.
The partnership includes the province, the City of Vancouver and the private sector, which together will provide $1.5 million to open the beds in three locations in Vancouver.
The premier, flanked by Robertson and a representative from the Streetohome Foundation, told reporters the 200 beds would be ready right away.
"The city is in those three projects now and some are in different states of repair," Campbell said.
The latest announcement is complementary to a number of other longer-term initiatives to find shelter for homeless people.
"We're looking at moving all of this forward as fast as we can given the weather right now," said Robertson.
Campbell credited the newly elected Vancouver mayor with being the driving force behind the announcement.
At one time Robertson and Campbell worked on opposite sides of the B.C. legislature, until Robertson quit as a New Democrat MLA to run for mayor.
Each partner will contribute $500,000 to fund the temporary overnight beds for the next 90 days.
Robertson said the announcement was spurred by the current freezing temperatures, but people who take advantage of the newly created spaces will not be ejected once the weather warms up.
Campbell outlined some of the existing programs already available to try to find shelter for the homeless, including new housing units that will start opening in January.
"We are now working with the city on 14 separate sites . . . but 455 brand new units will open early in the new year," said Campbell.
The latest 200 beds will allow people time to look for more permanent shelter if that's what they want, said Campbell.
"It's 90 days that they are there. It's not a matter of asking people in for a day and pushing them out.
"You want them to get a sense of stability, so we can then help them get real accommodation that will meet their long-term needs if possible."
The mayor said the point of the recent initiative was to "bridge through the winter when the hundreds of units that the province has been putting together come on stream."
The last city count in the spring indicated more than 800 people in Vancouver alone are homeless and not taking advantage of existing shelter housing.
The premier said other programs already existing include the province's purchase and renovation of 17 single-room occupancy hotels, the development of more than 1,400 new housing units, 687 beds funded through the emergency shelter program and almost 500 beds through the extreme weather response program.
With reports from CTV British Columbia's Jina You and The Canadian Press