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Vancouver, Surrey open up cold-weather shelter spaces

A new emergency shelter in Vancouver's Mount Pleasant neighbourhood opens its doors. Nov. 25, 2010. (CTV) A new emergency shelter in Vancouver's Mount Pleasant neighbourhood opens its doors. Nov. 25, 2010. (CTV)
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Metro Vancouver's two largest cities have opened up extra shelter spaces as overnight temperatures are forecast to dip close to freezing in the coming days.

Both Vancouver and Surrey announced the move Wednesday, saying they anticipate that the spaces will remain open through at least Monday.

"If you are sleeping outside, please come to the safety of the shelters," the bulletins from the municipalities say.

Cities in the region activate their Extreme Weather Response spaces when an alert is received from the Homeless Services Association of BC. The criteria for those alerts include when temperatures are at or "feel like" zero degrees, when snow accumulates, and when a combination of cold and rainfall makes it "difficult or impossible for those experiencing homelessness to remain dry," according to the City of Vancouver's website.

Although the alert Wednesday was triggered due to low temperatures, the region is also bracing for its second atmospheric river in a week, which is expected to bring heavy rain and whipping winds in its wake.

In Vancouver, the annual homeless count has not been done since 2020. That year, there were 2,095 people experiencing homelessness. Of those, 547 were "unsheltered," meaning they were living outdoors – on the streets or in parks. In Surrey in 2020, 644 people were unhoused, 173 of whom were unsheltered.

In Vancouver, spaces are being opened up at the following shelters:

Directions Youth Services Centre

1138 Burrard St.

Ten spaces are available for those 24 and younger, starting at 10 p.m. each night. After midnight, mats are provided and pets are allowed with a limit of four per person.

Cascades Church

3833 Boundary Rd.

Ten spaces are available for adults, starting at 9:30 p.m. Pets and carts are not allowed and the shelter is not wheelchair accessible.

Bus Osborn EWR

27 W. Hasting St.

Providing 18 spaces for adults. Doors open at 7 p.m., a hot meal is provided and showers are available. Pets are allowed although cats need to be in carriers and aggressive dogs must be muzzled. Cart storage is available, space permitting.

Salvation Army Belkin House

555 Homer St.

Only open Nov. 3 – 7. Space available for 15 men and five women. Doors open at 9 p.m.

One warming centre has been activated:

Powell Street Getaway

450 E Hastings St.

During extreme weather alerts, the drop-in site can take in an extra 25 people, starting act 9 p.m. Hot drinks and snacks are provided and there is an overdose prevention site.

In Surrey spaces are available at the following locations.

Pacific Community Church

5337 180 St.

Twenty-five spaces for adults are available starting at 10:00 p.m. It is wheelchair accessible and pets are allowed. Some snacks are offered as is a bus ticket and a meal voucher in the morning.

Mount Olive Lutheran Church

2350 148 St.

Twenty-five spaces are available for adults starting at 10 p.m. . It is wheelchair accessible and pets are allowed. Some snacks are offered as is a bus ticket and a meal voucher in the morning.

Fleetwood Christian Reformed Church

9165 160 St.

10 mats will be available starting at 7 p.m. Snacks, coffee, dinner and breakfast are served. No pets or cart storage are allowed.

Shimai Transition House

13327 100A Ave.

Six spaces are available, for women only, starting at 8 p.m. Food is provided, as are showers and laundry if needed.

Pacific Community Resources Society

10453 Whalley Blvd. – six spaces

Ten spaces are available for youth under 24 starting at 7 p.m. Hot meals, showers and laundry are available. The site closes at 11 p.m. if no one has shown up. No pets are allowed.

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