Extreme weather shelter opens in church

With the temperatures dropping to -10 C at night, various community groups have come together to provide warmth and shelter to those in need.

With the temperatures dropping to -10 C at night, various community groups have come together to provide warmth and shelter to those in need.

With funding from B.C. Housing and support from the United Church and Salvation Army, six beds will be set aside as extreme weather shelter for homeless people or those needing a safe place to spend the night.

The Trail Gymnastics Club donated mats for beds and while the accommodations may not be spacious, the Salvation Army church is providing room in its basement for anyone needing a place to hunker down until the weather warms.

After ministerial meetings in December, United Church minister Keith Simmons spoke to other church leaders about a homeless shelter.

But it wasn’t until Trail resident Nola Landucci teamed up with Simmons and Salvation Army Major Wilf Harbin that the ad hoc extreme weather shelter committee was formed.

“We went with the Salvation Army, in part because they are an organization who have run a lot of shelters . . . so we decided they would do what they needed to do to modify the building and house the location,” said Simmons.

With city approval the committee was able to move forward.

The United Church has undertaken the accounting and hiring duties and so far has retained three people to take care of the service that will run every year from November to March.

As of Tuesday, the shelter is open at 9 p.m. until 8 a.m. each night. However, because it is an extreme weather shelter, the temperature must be below 0 C or with a 50 per cent or higher chance of precipitation.

Hot soup will be provided in the evening and cereal and toast in the morning, courtesy of Kate’s Kitchen, said the Salvation Army’s Mary Anne Leschutta.

There is obviously a need for it so during times of really bad weather, “people can come in out of the cold and sleep here for the night,” said Sally Ann Major Heather Harbin.

The maximum funding covered by B.C. Housing works out to be about $360 per night including wages and expenses but the budget is dependent on the weather and use.

“We’ve needed something like this here in Trail for a very long time and nobody’s done that so it’s really good to be part of that,” said Simmons.

The diaconal minister acknowledges the people who care enough to support a shelter and the many volunteers who help run it, but on the other hand, says it’s a shame that in one of the richest countries in the world that the question of why people live on the streets isn’t more closely examined.

“In that respect, it feels like a defeat.”