(File photo: Amy Reid)

‘Not wanting to turn anyone away’: Surrey’s extreme weather shelters close to capacity

Shuttle service running to Fleetwood and Cloverdale from north Surrey

For the past several days, people weren’t being turned away from Surrey’s extreme weather shelter spaces.

Jonquil Hallgate, Surrey’s Extreme Weather Response co-ordinator, said shelters in the City Centre area “were all over-capacity because we weren’t turning anyone away.”

She said some shelter spaces were letting people sit in the lobby area to stay warm.

READ ALSO: ‘We’re not prepared’: Concern over lack of extreme weather space in Newton, Oct. 7, 2019

READ ALSO: Surrey’s new emergency shelter almost full after one week, Nov. 27, 2019

That’s despite three new shelter spaces opening up.

Hallgate said Phoenix Recovery Society has opened a second location at 100th Avenue and 139th Street, there are spaces available at a Guildford extreme weather shelter, and Fleetwood Christian Reformed Church has also offered space.

For more information on shelter locations, visit shelters.bc211.ca/bc211shelters or call 2-1-1.

This year, Hallgate said, the EWR has a shuttle service operating for when people arrive at north Surrey shelters and there aren’t any mats available.

“They can be transported to Fleetwood or Cloverdale where there’s spaces available,” she said. “Because a lot of people don’t want to go out of their neighbourhoods… the deal is in the morning we’ll bring them back so that they’re back in their home neighbourhood.”

It’s not the first time the shuttle service has been offered, Hallgate said. It’s been offered “once in a while over the years” when outreach is available, but it’s been a couple of years.

Last night, she said, the shuttle was able to take three people to Fleetwood from City Centre. Two of them were transported back this morning, while the third was taken to hospital because he was “quite ill.”

“Obviously, he might not have received that intervention if he was on the streets. I’m really glad he was able to come in somewhere and get the help he needed.”

In recent days, the temperature in the region dropped to at least -10C, along with several snowfalls since Sunday (Jan. 12).

READ ALSO: New snowstorm on the way for Metro Vancouver, Jan. 15, 2020

Asked if there have been any reports of injuries due to the weather, Hallgate said she hasn’t heard of anything.

Hallgate said the extreme weather shelters will be open through to Monday morning (Jan. 20).

“If it looks like it’s warmer temperatures, which today they’re predicted to go up, then we’ll probably close and then open again when the temperatures start to plunge, if that happens again. Hopefully we won’t have another bout of this kind of weather,” she said.

If people are looking to donate warm clothing or personal care items, they can email Hallgate at surreyextremeweather@gmail.com.



lauren.collins@surreynowleader.com

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