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White Rock politicians pitch in after cold-night plea

Judy Peterson talks about the rent bank. - Tracy Holmes photo
Judy Peterson talks about the rent bank.
— image credit: Tracy Holmes photo

Talk of a fundraiser aimed at helping keep people out of the cold led to a warm offer by four White Rock councillors.

The solution followed an appeal by Sources’ Denise Darrell for the city to waive $420 in banner and facility-rental fees in connection with the non-profit organization’s upcoming ‘Coldest Night’ evening-walk event.

Coun. Louise Hutchinson, in her role as acting mayor, suggested the group should apply for a grant-in-aid “as soon as possible.”

However, Coun. Al Campbell had  another thought – “I’ll help pay for that.”

Campbell’s offer was quickly echoed by Couns. Grant Meyer, Larry Robinson and Bill Lawrence.

Sources’ executive director David Young told council the event is a first for White Rock. Set for Feb. 22, it has been held in communities across Canada since 2011, and takes place during what is typically the coldest month of the year.

This week, overnight temperatures are forecast to dip as low as -10C. Environment Canada issued a statement Monday advising that wind chill could bring that down to -20.

Young noted there are about 50 identified homeless people in the White Rock area.

The Coldest Night experience – challenging participants to walk two, five or 10 kilometres in the chilly night air – is intended to provide a glimpse of what those who are homeless face on a daily basis this time of year.

Fundraiser proceeds will help “the homeless, the hurting and the hungry,” Young said.

Locally, it will bolster Sources’ Rent Bank, a program that provides short-term micro-loans to eligible low-income residents in Surrey, Delta, White Rock, New Westminster and Langley. Launched in January 2010, it has so far helped keep a roof over the heads of more than 400 people.

Last year, however, the rent bank ran out of funds in May – at which point the number of loans provided in 2013 (47) had doubled that given in all of 2012. The program receives about 1,300 applications annually.

Young is hopeful the Coldest Night will draw 20 teams and raise at least $25,000 for the program.

The walk routes begin and end at Sources’ White Rock office, 882 Maple St., starting at 5:15 p.m. Registration opens at 4 p.m. A warm, light meal will be served to all walkers and volunteers between 6-8 p.m.

To sign up or for more information, visit www.coldestnightoftheyear.org

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