Maple Ridge’s week of winter has seen the extreme weather response kick into place, providing shelter to those who have nowhere to spend the night.
The response allows the opening of the emergency shelter at 22239 Lougheed Hwy., operated by the Salvation Army at the former Sleep Shop location, during evening hours so people can get out of the cold for, at least, the night.
But only about 63 per cent of the shelter’s 25-bed capacity is being used, with nightly occupancy at about 16 people since the emergency weather response was triggered on Jan. 6, said Andrea Coutts, with BC Housing.
People check-in at 9 p.m. and leave by 7 a.m.
However, Coutts noted the Salvation Army Ridge Meadows Ministries offers 60 beds at its main shelter location just across the street at 222nd Street and Lougheed Highway.
Mark Stewart, executive-director with the Salvation Army, said that people can warm up at the main location throughout the day and have access to showers and warm clothing.
He added that if more than 25 people show up at the emergency shelter, they’ll find room somehow.
“Nobody is getting turned away right now.”
Stewart said restrictions that keep some people from staying at the Salvation Army also have been lifted.
“We don’t want anybody to feel they’re not allowed,” he added.
For Brett Moffat, Tuesday morning saw him pushing a loaded grocery cart down the street, with his dog Charlie inside, cozily wrapped in blankets.
He’d had just left the emergency shelter after spending the night, but didn’t know where he would spend the day, saying that downtown security guards won’t let him stay anywhere.
Moffat said it’s difficult to get a good night’s sleep in the shelter when he’s concerned about his personal items being stolen.
“You can’t be normal when you’re not sleeping,” he said.
But having his dog Charlie helps a lot. The emergency shelter allows pets and even has dog food, Stewart said.
He lived for about six months in the temporary modular homes on Royal Crescent, but said he was evicted after he spoke out for other tenants.
BC Housing opened two supportive housing complexes, one on Royal Crescent and the other on Burnett Street.
The supportive housing complexes provide a total of 104 self-contained homes with on-site supports to help people experiencing homelessness in the community achieve and maintain housing stability, BC Housing said.
Supports include outreach workers, wellness checks, life skills training, employment assistance and referral to community services and support groups. Residents are also connected to counselling, as well as health, mental health and addiction recovery services.