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New extreme weather notification system considered for homeless in Kamloops

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August 05, 2016 - 1:00 PM

KAMLOOPS - When extreme weather is coming, it's not always easy to reach out to the homeless in Kamloops.

That's why the Canadian Mental Health Association is working on a new system to notify the homeless population when the Emerald Centre's extreme weather response has been activated.

“We would like to engage the business community to be able to display a decal in the window of their business to indicate to someone walking past on the street the extreme weather response was activated," CMHA Kamloops branch executive director Christa Mullaly says.

Currently when the extreme weather response has been activated Mullaly sends out an email to the RCMP and to service providers who work with the homeless population. The message is then passed on, but it can be hit and miss.

"We were activating or deactivating almost daily," she says. "That information about when we were activated wasn’t always getting to clients."

The proposed system will be discussed at a meeting in late August with other agencies. Mullaly says it’s also an opportunity to talk to the city’s businesses and find out what level of participation there will be in the community.

“By engaging the business community we hope to foster a conversation about homelessness,” she says. “We’re going to be bringing in the business community at the end of August.”

The extreme weather response opens up two more beds at the Emerald Centre, but Mullaly says staff make efforts to never turn anyone away who is looking for shelter for the night which means couches or mats on the floor are used, if need be. Hot food and clothing are also available at the shelter.

The centre splits it’s shelter by gender, with 30 beds for men and 12 for women. The extreme weather response brings out one more bed for each side.

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