A man adjusts his toque in the rain outside of the Gospel Mission. The colder weather has arrived in Kelowna and homeless shelters are operating at full capacity. - Credit: Carli Berry/Capital News

New winter shelters open in Okanagan

Kelowna - Winter shelters have been opened around B.C.

Vulnerable people experiencing homelessness will now have access to additional safe shelter spaces during the cold winter months and times of extreme weather in Okanagan communities.

With colder weather already hitting parts of the province, the Government of B.C. is partnering with local governments and non-profit organizations to provide more than 640 winter shelter spaces and more than 800 extreme weather response shelter spaces in more than 40 communities, according to the provincial government.

Emergency weather shelters will be located in Kelowna at 2600 Herbert Rd., Penticton at 1706 Main St. and Salmon Arm at 441 3rd St. Southwest.

“Everyone needs access to a safe and warm place to stay, especially during extreme weather conditions,” said Selina Robinson, minister of municipal affairs and housing. “The health and safety of people living on the street will always be a priority for our government and their well-being is especially concerning during the cold and wet winter months, when prolonged exposure to extreme conditions could be fatal.”

All regular winter shelter spaces will be open overnight every night, with many open 24/7, and providing meals and health services.

Extreme weather response shelters will be available when communities issue extreme weather alerts. Individual municipalities determine which weather conditions warrant an alert, and how many spaces to activate on a given night, depending on shelter capacity and the estimated need, according to the provincial government.

Both regular winter shelters and extreme weather response shelters will be in operation from Nov. 1 to March 31.

These spaces supplement the almost 2,000 permanent, year-round shelter spaces available throughout British Columbia.

The B.C. government also funds outreach teams that work throughout the province at shelters and on the street to help connect individuals experiencing homelessness with housing and support services, such as income assistance and mental-health services.

To see a map of permanent and temporary shelters in B.C., search online.

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