As nights turn cold, there will be increased demand for shelter at the Salvation Army Ridge Meadows Ministry.
Executive director Mark Stewart is confident there will be enough room, even with the need to social distance the visitors during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Sally Ann operates an emergency weather shelter at 22239 Lougheed Highway, which is open during extreme weather, such as when temperatures fall below freezing, or when there are large falls of snow or rain.
He said there are physical barriers between the sleeping participants, or physical distancing. Twice daily they have their temperatures taken, and are monitored for symptoms. If they are showing symptoms, they are tested right away. Staff also go through the COVID checklist regularly.
“We haven’t had one case of COVID since this whoole thing started,” he said.
And there is a lot of room right now, because his staff has put an emphasis on helping people find more permanent housing. Case workers help to move them through the shelter, with an expectation they are trying to find a place to call home. Some of them who have moved out recenlty had been there for a long period of time, he said. Other agencies and facilities have helped.
“We have lots of room,” he said. “The community in Maple Ridge has been working really well together.”
Since February, they have moved 51 people into rental housing or some other more permanent situation. They have also helped another 34 people get into detox or treatment, he said.
The result is that the main building, which generally sleeps 55-60 clients, is only half full. It could sleep up to 80 maximum if needed, he said. The emergency shelter sleeps another 30.
“We’re not expecting a huge influx of people, but we can accomodate a lot,” said Stewart.