Seven day a week shelter opens in Kitimat church

An overnight homeless shelter in Kitimat has opened which will run seven days a week until March.

UPDATE: The shelter, as of December 8, will be moving to the Kitimat First Baptist Church on Columbia Avenue. It will no longer be at the Mountainview Alliance Church.

Following from last winter’s extreme weather shelter, the Mountainview Alliance Church is hosting a seven-day a week overnight homeless shelter.

The shelter is being operated by the Kitimat Child Development Centre, with support from the Kitimat Housing Resource Project, and is co-managed by Birgit Manninen and Michelle Martins.

The shelter only opened for the first night on November 17 and the managers, along with their current crop of volunteers, were busy to make sure everything was set before the likely peak season begins when the weather will really take a turn with cold and snow.

Unlike last year, this shelter will operate regardless of whether extreme weather has been declared.

“There’s no stipulation what the weather is, we’re just open,” said Manninen.

She said that they do hope that they can eventually secure space at the Kitimat First Baptist Church, only to provide a more central location for potential users.

Since opening on the 17th, she said they hadn’t had any users yet, but it will be a wait-and-see approach to how well used it is ultimately.

“There’s so many dynamics to this that at any point you don’t know how many you’re going to have,” she said. “It will be at the end that we’ll know.”

She said people who need shelter may have found some but it’s very possible people may feel “closed in” after awhile, or the people they’re staying with could get evicted themselves, which rapidly changes a person’s situation.

Martins says anybody can be admitted, the rules though are to be sober and drug free, and vital statistics are taken as well to ensure the person doesn’t need medical treatment.

The shelter opens at 8 p.m. and closes at 8 a.m. daily.

“It is more so directed to men because there are no supports for men in the community,” added Martins. “For women and children we’re going to try to get them in to the transition house first.”

The managers are still seeking more volunteers to add to the dozen or so they have on their roster.

People can call the CDC at 250-632-3144 for information about the shelter.