Our Place Society has a courtyard where patrons can leave their things but it is uncovered and unsupervised, prompting many people to avoid using Extreme Weather Protocol shelter space and instead stay outdoors. (Kendra Crighton/News Staff)

Extreme Weather Protocol activated in Victoria for 10th day in a row

More shelter beds open to the region’s homeless population

Heavy snow and cold temperatures have kept the Extreme Weather Protocol (EWP) active since Feb. 3, resulting in more than enough beds and mats for those seeking shelter.

The Extreme Weather Protocol will activate if there is heavy rain, wind or snow or if temperatures hit 0 C or below.

On Tuesday night alone, shelters across the Capital Region opened their doors and saw 388 people come in.

“We’re seemingly meeting the needs of the people accessing shelters,” said Jennifer Wilde, regional co-ordinator of EWP. “That’s across all regular emergency shelters, extreme weather shelters, temporary shelters and youth sites.”

ALSO READ: With 60 shelter beds inside, some homeless opt to sleep in the snow

The emergency shelters opened up at the Salvation Army, at Rock Bay, Our Place and the Juan de Fuca Electoral District, offering an additional 92 mats. These sites are all “Tier 1” designated sites, while Tier 2 sites are backup spaces offering an additional 30 mats.

“We opened up the second tier in case we needed the space, but we didn’t need it,” Wilde said. “The open shelters have been thinking of accommodating people, and have been much more lenient about access to shelters, which is good.”

Wilde noted that despite the available beds, many people choose to stay outside. The most common reason for this decision, she’s been told, is a fear for people’s possessions.

ALSO READ: Juan de Fuca Electoral Area and Our Place bring extreme weather shelter to Sooke

“Gear is a huge problem, there’s nowhere for people to store their stuff,” Wilde said.

Others feel more comfortable when there are less people around, she added.

Regardless of the reasons, people staying inside or outside of the shelters at night can still access the services during the day. Wilde noted in harsh weather donations are needed more than ever.

“Donations are still coming in, but it’s tough with the road conditions being so bad,” she said. “We need stuff. If people have extra toques, mitts, scarves, jackets, snow pants, we could definitely use it.”

The EWP is activated for this evening.

For more information, you can visit vewp.net.

nicole.crescenzi@vicnews.com


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