The Victoria Cool Aid Society was slightly over capacity Sunday night.
On Monday, the temperature in Victoria was a chilly -5 C – with wind chill bringing the temperature closer to -10.
The Victoria Cool Aid Society offers 109 beds year-round and 40 additional beds over the winter – from Nov. 1 to March 31. During the activation of the Emergency Weather Protocol (EWP), Cool Aid opens an additional 20 mats at their Rock Bay Landing location.
Cool Aid’s Seasonal Shelter opens at 9 pm nightly at the Downtown Community Centre, 755 Pandora. https://t.co/KqDFXVSUCp— Cool Aid (@VicCoolAid) February 3, 2019
Joann Connolly, manager of the Victoria Cool Aid Society shelters at Rock Bay Landing, said the society often sees its bed usage go down during an EWP because clients have more options.
But not this week.
“So we typically see it go down, but this time we didn’t, we actually saw it increase,” she said. “I’m assuming that’s due to the really cold temperatures and the snow and the wind.”
Connolly said Cool Aid took in 21 people at their 20-bed Rocky Bay landing emergency location, and 43 people at the 40-bed temporary shelter at the Downtown Community Centre at 755 Pandora Ave.
“We have to say no to some extent, especially in the temporary shelter, especially because it’s a small space – it’s a gym,” she said, adding that staffing and fire regulations limit intake to 45 people at the downtown centre.
The temporary shelter offers a hot meal, some toiletries and clean clothes and staffing to direct clients to different resources.
Victoria’s EWP was activated Feb. 3 when temperatures dropped across the south Island.
The EWP is a community-based initiative to increase the number of shelter spaces available during winter weather conditions such as heavy wind, snow, rain and temperatures below 0 C.
With the help of organizations such as Our Place Society and the Salvation Army, an additional 115 spots open up for overnight shelter when the EWP is activated.