REPORTING · 23rd October 2014
With winter fast approaching, the community is getting ready for a shelter for people who do not have a pace to stay. In September, Margaret Warcup and Trish Parsons presented to Council.
ďAs you know, last year in Kitimat, with BC housing, the District of Kitimat and Volunteers operated a shelter at the Firehall as our venue. As you previously received the report on what happened last year. It is very difficult to predict the need for a shelter but weíre asking the District of Kitimat to help us this winter. We need a solution for dealing with those who are potentially homeless in Kitimat,Ē said Warcup.
At the time, nothing had come forward, but BC housing was willing to help set up an extreme weather shelter. She expressed the cold weather shelter was difficult to operate because someone would have to monitor the weather and wetness before they can operate. BC Housing had offered to set up hotel rooms for homeless people when the weather gets bad but this is also hard to do in Kitimat.
Parsons told Council, last year, the shelter was underutilized. She expressed people who might use it were unable to find out know if it was open or not and would not have been willing to risk the resouces to find out.
She stated Kitimat was second only to one other community in BC in the price of rental housing, however, Vancouver has a lot more resources to deal with homelessness then Kitimat does.
Warcup asked the District to help with their cold weather solutions.
Is there a need for a homeless shelter in Kitimat? At the Council Meeting on Monday, September 15th, Paul Lagace brought two individuals who were having an emergency situation. A former Police Officer and his wife who live locally had just lost everything.
ďItís a real need, and these arenít the 15, this happens every day,Ē said Lagace.
ďYou donít see homelessness in the day time but the homelessness is still there at night time. You donít see the people there wrapped and curled up and cold and freezing in the night time because they are waiting for daylight. You donít see them hungry, you donít see them looking for water in the morning. You donít see them shivering at night time,Ē said the homeless man.
He returned to Council on Monday, October 6th to thank the Mayor for putting him up for the night. Then they were put up at the First Baptist Church, now they are at Radley Park. He thanked the Community Supper Club hooked them up with blankets and much needed material.
ďThe weather is getting colder and itís raining out more and itís getting damp in the tent and itís not really adequate for us to be staying in Radley Park anymore,Ē he said.
He stated he was looking for an environment where they could stay dry instead of curling up in a blanket and staying in the damp. He asked Council to find a place in the winter time so they could stay dry and warm.
Mayor Joanne Monaghan expressed she was glad that she could do that. Councillor Mary Murphy asked if the housing resource workers were attempting to get him into a place. The response was there was nothing in Kitimat.
Legace told Council they were in talks with BC Housing and there are two proposals with a church to get a shelter going in two weeks.
At the moment, they are looking for an employee responsible for overseeing the operation of the shelter including the recruitment, training and scheduling of volunteers. Interested persons should contact Warcup at 250-632-3144.
They are also looking for community volunteers who will work in pairs at the shelter while it is open. Training will be provided.