The Juan de Fuca Electoral Area and Our Place have combined their efforts to finally bring an extreme weather shelter to Sooke.
The move comes just as Sooke descends into a period of cold and higher than average snowfall.
The shelter initiative has been under discussion at Our Place since September, when officials there became aware of the need for emergency shelter in the community.
“We understand that there are more than 100 people living outdoors, based on the point in time count, and no where for them to shelter from the weather,” said Linda McLean, Our Place’s chief operating officer.
“The problem we’ve had is finding a space for a shelter. There just didn’t seem to be anyplace available.”
That’s where Mike Hicks and the Juan de Fuca Electoral Area came into the picture.
Hicks, the Juan de Fuca Electoral Area director, said that he became aware of the problem and felt it was time for someone to act.
“We have this 1,000-square-foot meeting space available at our Butler Road local area services building where we have washrooms and it seemed that we needed to do something,” said Hicks.
With the space made available, Our Place staff jumped into action and, since Monday, has been working out the logistics of the shelter.
“What’s going to happen is that we will send out cots to the location, but we realize that this is a large area and it could be hard for people to get to the shelter. That’s why we’re sending a van out to make it all work,” McLean said.
The Our Place van will be in the community and go to muster stations, where staff will pick up clients and transport them to the shelter.
“We’ll be picking people up around 7 p.m. and the shelter will operate between 7:30 p.m. and 7 a.m.,” McLean said.
“We’ll be bringing in hot soup, sandwiches and coffee and tea and some breakfast bag lunches that we’ll be providing to people as they leave in the morning.”
The idea, McLean added, is to provide a warm, safe place to go in extreme weather.
Hicks added that JDF has also taken the initiative to provide dog kennels at the shelter so that those homeless people who have animals will not be left out in the cold.
The move comes after the nearly two years of no shelter beds available in Sooke, although a point in time count of homeless in July indicated a need for a shelter in the community.
The Sooke Baptist Church operated a shelter until 2015, when B.C. Housing ended the initiative.