The Bay Avenue site opened Nov. 1 and will remain operational until the end of March. (Sheri Regnier photo)

Trail shelter at capacity most nights

Staff advised not to turn anyone away from the six-bed shelter in this especially cold stretch

No matter how cold it is outside, the downtown Trail shelter is usually full.

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Since the wintertime-only service first opened nine years ago in an East Trail church, nightly usage has continued to rise and its management evolved from an ad-hoc committee to professional social workers.

“The numbers have absolutely increased,” says coordinator Sheila Adcock from Career Development Services (CDS).

“We have had six per night pretty consistently throughout this cold stretch,” she added.

“We have told the shelter staff that if there are seven, don’t turn them away, as we can pull out another mattress for the night with (these) low temperatures.”

As far as demographics, shelter patrons are mostly men between the ages of 25 and 40.

She says there haven’t been any particular challenges so far, but guests have been asked to leave on occasion.

“If their behaviours escalated and they were disrespectful or aggressive to staff or other guests,” Adcock said. “But they left when asked without the RCMP having to attend.”

The greatest hurdle for staff by far, is helping homeless patrons find a more permanent housing solution.

“There are huge issues in finding affordable housing in the community at this time,” Adcock said. “The landlords are trying to push long-term tenants out for a variety of reasons and then renting out their unit at a much higher rent,” she explained.

“The individuals we are seeing in the shelter have a long history of homelessness and are struggling to accept or access the resources that may be available in the community.”

While the temporary shelter serves a purpose during the cold months, it’s the bigger picture that concerns Adcock.

“Individuals that have complex needs have no option in this community for any type of supportive housing model,” she said. “We are gathering information and support from other organizations to present information to BC Housing and the municipal governments, outlining the crisis that exists in this community for individuals that need ongoing supports to maintain their housing.”

Located on Bay Avenue in the back of the Community Inclusion Centre, the shelter is open from 8 p.m. to 8 a.m.

For anyone wishing to help, various sundries such as toothbrushes, toothpaste, deodorant are needed as well as new pillows and gloves.

CDS, which is governed by TACL (Trail Association for Community Living), took over shelter operations in 2013. The locale moved from the Salvation Army Church to the United Church in downtown Trail that year. Then, with help from the province’s Job Creation Partnership, the current site was renovated in 2017 to include six hideaways beds and storage.

In partnership with municipalities and non-profits in approximately 65 communities around B.C., the province is funding more than 1,400 temporary shelter spaces and over 750 extreme weather response shelter spaces this winter.

All temporary shelters are open overnight or run 24/7, and provide meals.

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