Kitimat extreme weather shelter ready to open when conditions dictate

A response plan has been accepted by council meaning an extreme weather shelter can be opened when needed.

The Extreme Weather Planning Group (EWPG) has been allowed to use $8,000 out of BC Housing’s $15,000 grant to the District of Kitimat to get the extreme weather shelter up and running.

Now that the extreme weather response program plan has been accepted by council, the shelter is officially operational and will open during specified weather situations.

Notably the shelter, which is located at the Public Safety Building (the fire hall) on Haisla Boulevard, will activate when temperatures are either at or below -4C, when temperatures are 0C with a weather warning, when there’s significant snow accumulation, or when there’s been three or more days of rain, “creating conditions where it is difficult for a homeless person to remain dry.” (The three days of rain would only trigger the shelter to be open for one night.)

Margaret Warcup and Trish Parsons for EWPG were at the January 6 council meeting requesting the release of $8,000 from the District’s BC Housing grant, as well as some other housekeeping to get everything in order for the shelter.

“We need to have in place an activation team to call the cold weather or extreme weather alert, and that involves contacting BC Housing, the government… so the first part of the request for tonight is that council consider appointing the deputy CAO Warren as the activation team person for the District of Kitimat,” said Parsons at council.

Warren Waycheshen’s appointment, which was approved by council, means he can decide when to call an extreme weather alert.

The process is once an alert has been called, a number of volunteer contacts would be informed and notices would go in various groups’ windows and to the media announcing the shelter would be open in the evening.

Any alert would be called by 3 p.m.

Parsons said at the meeting that there have been three specific people who have needed use of the shelter so far in the winter.

Parsons later explained to the Sentinel that from the $8,000 will be hired a part-time employee who will work for the shelter and for related issues.

“It’s to employ someone part time to assist in setting up all the protocols…and there’s some items we need to purchase in order to run the shelter,” she said.

Training volunteers is part of that employment.

The extreme weather shelter plan is in effect between November 1 and March 31, intermittently during that period as needed.