File photo                                A sign outside White Rock First United Church in February advises of the extreme-weather shelter hours.

File photo A sign outside White Rock First United Church in February advises of the extreme-weather shelter hours.

White Rock extreme-weather shelter provided warmth for 923 visits this season

Operations to be moved to Star of the Sea hall

The White Rock extreme-weather shelter, based out of the First United Church, had 923 guest visits since it opened its doors last November.

The shelter, which was last open on March 25, offered warmth, shelter and food for 72 nights during the 2017-’18 winter season.

During an update to the Peninsula Homeless to Housing task force Friday, shelter co-organizer Joan McMurtry said that the shelter averaged 12.6 visits each night. It was open during extreme-weather events or if the temperature approached zero degrees.

The shelter was busiest the week of Christmas, servicing up to 22 clients in a single night. Maximum capacity of the shelter is approximately 15 people.

The shelter is operated by volunteers, Peninsula United Church and Options Community Services Society.

“The volunteers are very responsive, they want to be doing it,” McMurtry explained to the group, adding that many of the volunteers are from the local community.

McMurtry said that shelter operations are now moving to the Star of the Sea Community Centre (15262 Pacific Ave.).

“Star of the Sea has just been incredible and welcoming,” McMurtry said.

“Star of the Sea has just been incredible and welcoming,” she said.

McMurtry said that space is being rented to Peninsula United for the shelter, and that Star of the Sea built a shower in the facility for the overnight guests.

The First United Church, in its current form, will soon cease to exist, following a council vote to grant requested variances for a development permit for the property.

Built more than 60 years ago, the 15385 Semiahmoo Ave. building is to be demolished to make way for a four-storey residential care facility that will incorporate a new, ground-level Peninsula United Church that retired Rev. Merv Lutes told Peace Arch News last month “will serve the community that is here and also the community to come.”

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