Mark Stewart, executive director of the Salvation Army Ridge Meadows Ministries, said there is still room at the homeless shelter, which was not at capacity despite Wednesday night’s freezing temperatures. (Neil Corbett/THE NEWS)

Mark Stewart, executive director of the Salvation Army Ridge Meadows Ministries, said there is still room at the homeless shelter, which was not at capacity despite Wednesday night’s freezing temperatures. (Neil Corbett/THE NEWS)

Homeless shelters in Maple Ridge not filling up in freezing temperatures

It appears there are fewer people on the streets, says Salvation Army

Temperatures with wind chill are dropping as low as -25 C this week in Metro Vancouver, but the Salvation Army is confident it can house everyone who needs to come in from the cold.

A weather alert has been issued by Environment Canada for the Metro Vancouver area, forecasting “frigid temperatures and strong outflow winds” expected for the week. The forecast for Thursday night is a low of -11 C with the wind chill in Pitt Meadows.

Mark Stewart, executive director of the Salvation Army Ridge Meadows Ministries said even in Wednesday night’s freezing temperatures the shelter was not full, as 53 out of 65 beds at the main building were occupied. There were also 11 people across the street in the personal distancing shelter on Dewdney Trunk Road, which is less than half full for that facility.

READ ALSO: New Maple Ridge charity hosts Coldest Night of the Year fundraiser

Stewart said the Salvation Army and other local agencies have done a good job of moving people who were living on the streets into supportive housing, rehabilitation and market housing. So shelters will have capacity to handle people coming in from the cold. Even if those spaces fill up, staff at the shelter won’t turn anybody away.

READ ALSO: ‘Raising the alarm:’ Priority vaccines urged for homeless population, shelter staff

The forecast calls for freezing temperatures Thursday and Friday, with the high -1 C both days. The low with wind chill is forecast for -11C tonight and -10 C Friday in Maple Ridge and Pitt Meadows. There are snow flurries in the forecast for Saturday.

Temperatures are expected to rebound over the weekend.

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