Chris Kimberly, Nathaniel Sands and Natalie Caya of The Salvation Army Ridge Meadows Ministries prepare to help clients at a temporary physical distancing shelter that opened May 12, 2020 to help alleviate crowding and prevent the spread of COVID-19. (Mark Stewart/Special to THE NEWS)

Shelter space expanded at Ridge Meadows Ministries to prevent COVID-19 spread

The Salvation Army is not creating new spaces rather alleviating crowding

The Salvation Army’s Ridge Meadows Ministries is temporarily expanding shelter capacity for its existing clients starting Tuesday.

The 25 space physical distancing shelter is an emergency response to the COVID-19 pandemic “to help reduce crowding, allowing further safe physical distancing,” the local chapter of The Salvation Army told The News.

“This is a temporary shelter for vulnerable people living in our community already,” said Mark Stewart, executive director of Ridge Meadows Ministries.

The shelter for existing clients opened Tuesday and will be in place until the end of July.

“We started moving some of our more vulnerable clients who are elderly, who are more susceptible to possibly catching COVID,” said Stewart.

READ MORE: Homeless counted in Maple Ridge and Pitt Meadows

The expansion is not creating new spaces rather alleviating crowding in the original building in hopes of preventing the spread of COVID-19.

The temporary shelter at 22239 Lougheed Hwy. “will provide a safe, supportive space, with daily meals, as well as access to showers, washroom facilities and hand washing stations.”

“Many experiencing homelessness are living in situations where COVID-19 can spread rapidly,“ said Stewart. “We are working with our city and health authority partners, and other key stakeholders to allow for further safe physical distancing measures.”

Ridge Meadows Ministries has had no known cases of COVID-19, Stewart confirmed.

READ MORE: Salvation Army in Maple Ridge limits community meal due to COVID-19 – gives out frozen meals instead

Staff will be on site at all hours to offer support and manage operations.

“We’ve been planning this for a while… we actually have new showers, we’re getting pods installed [Wednesday],” Stewart said. “So we wanted to actually do it with as much dignity as possible.”

The Salvation Army has had a presence in the communities of Maple Ridge and Pitt Meadows since 1990, according to their website.

For more information about The Salvation Army’s Ridge Meadows Ministries visit ridgemeadowssa.ca.


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