Sherry Thompson of the Sooke Shelter Society says that the refusal of any of Sooke’s churches or service groups to host an extreme weather shelter is putting the region’s homeless at risk. (Tim Collins/Sooke News Mirror)

Lack of shelter puts Sooke homeless at risk

Shelter Society gets nothing but rejections for extreme weather shelter

Imagine for a moment that you are one of the many homeless people in Sooke.

Now imagine the temperature has dropped below freezing and winter has gripped the region.

In Sooke, there is no shelter available and you will be left to your own devices to survive.

RELATED: Shelter Society works to help homeless

It’s a situation Sherry Thompson of the Sooke Shelter Society said is unacceptable and she and a group of volunteers are working to fix the situation.

“There really hasn’t been an extreme weather shelter in Sooke since the Baptist church pulled out of providing the service a few years ago, and we’ve been unable to find another location,” Thompson said.

RELATED: Learn about the Sooke Shelter Society

The group is working with the staff of the Extreme Weather Protocol to try to address the problem.

The protocol is a community program involving various faith groups, social service agencies, fire, and police working together to provide shelter spaces during acute winter weather conditions of heavy wind, snow, rain and temperatures below 0 Celsius.

“I really don’t want to criticize the (Baptist) church, but we need to start the community talking about the situation to recognize that our perception around the homeless and our fears around homelessness are largely unfounded. Those fears are, in part, why we have the problem in the first place,” said Jen Wilde, regional coordinator of the Greater Victoria Extreme Weather Response Program.

Those fears and perceptions of the homeless were on full display during the discussions with the Baptist church.

“We approached the church again, but, after a lot of meetings, those discussions ended and the church said they weren’t prepared to take on the project,” said Thompson. “They said that they’d pray for us, but they were concerned about their children. It’s all part of the stigma that the homeless face.”

She was quick to add that not every member of the church council was against opening the church to the homeless during bad weather but that, in the end, concerns about drug and alcohol use won out over the appeals of the shelter society.

“They were willing to consider running it as a high-barrier shelter in which everyone coming in would be searched and their packs would be searched and confiscated until they left. Also, once they (the homeless) checked in, they wouldn’t be allowed to leave until the morning,” said Thompson.

That approach would run counter to the guidelines for such shelters and would severely curtail funding for the project.

Thompson explained that her group has approached other churches in the community as well as organizations such as the legion and the Sooke Community Association, but has been turned down by them all.

“It’s a real shame because I really thought we’d be allowed back into the church and put out a request (to the community) for supplies and we got them all … everything we need. But then it all fell through,” said Thompson.

The Baptist Church did not respond to requests for comment.

Mayor Maya Tait said that she had run a stakeholder’s meeting in September in an effort to find a way to address the situation.

“This situation is really unacceptable. We’re better than this. We need to work together as a community to provide something for those in need in a community as wonderful as Sooke,” said Tait.



mailto:tim.collins@sookenewsmirror.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

‘Not the monster everyone thinks’: Sister of human-trafficking suspect speaks out

Trish Kelly’s brother was one of four Vancouver Island residents arrested last month in Saskatchewan

UPDATED: Indigenous youth occupy B.C. Legislature steps despite court injunction

Police negotiating with people gathered in support of some of the Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs

Oak Bay ups deer management budget to $96,100 for 2020

Provincial grant approved for deer contraception program

Old Town hotel developer says full retention of historic buildings ‘impossible’

UVic development partner says past renovations, seismic instability are barriers

Battling bullying covers a lot of ground, says Safe Schools manager for Sooke School District

Jamie Adair’s background is tailor-made for the work he does with the… Continue reading

VIDEO: B.C.’s seventh coronavirus patient at home in Fraser Health region

Canada in ‘containment’ as COVID-19 spreads in other countries

B.C. takes over another Retirement Concepts senior care home

Summerland facility latest to have administrator appointed

RCMP pull office from Wet’suwet’en territory, but hereditary chiefs still want patrols to end

Chief says temporary closure of field office not enough as Coastal GasLink pipeline dispute drags on

Prescription opioids getting B.C. addicts off ‘poisoned’ street drugs

Minister Judy Darcy says Abbotsford pilot project working

Teck CEO says Frontier withdrawal a result of tensions over climate, reconciliation

Don Lindsay speaks at mining conference, a day after announcing suspension of oilsands project

Okanagan man swims across Columbia River to evade Trail police

RCMP Cpl. Devon Reid says the incident began the evening of Thursday, Feb. 20

‘Hilariously bad’: RCMP looking for couple with forged, paper Alberta licence plate

Mounties said the car crashed when it lost a wheel but the duo ran away as police arrived

Harvey Weinstein found guilty of sex crimes in landmark #MeToo trial

The cases against the Hollywood mogul started the #MeToo movement

Most Read