KAMLOOPS - For the second year, Kamloops is operating a winter weather shelter that opens before the cold snap comes, and it's already proving useful.
Just last night, Nov. 2, more than 40 people stayed at the shelter set up at Stuart Wood Elementary School ahead of this week's cold snap. Canadian Mental Health Association executive director Christa Mullaly says the shelter opened on Nov. 1, and that night 19 people attended.
The emergency winter shelter in Kamloops used to activate when temperatures reached a certain low, but starting last year, city officials opened it on Nov. 1. The city announced last month that the old school would be used to house people during the winter.
Along with the 42 people who stayed at the shelter last night, the Emerald Centre that is a year-round shelter, was full, Mullaly says.
"I do want to reiterate for folks what's most important for us and service providers... we just really want people to come inside, be warm and be safe," Mullaly says.
The Emerald Centre and Stuart Wood both accept people at the same time, it's generally up to the person which place they would rather stay. Mullaly says both shelters are also accepting pets, but if an owner feels their pet would be more suitable in foster care, Four Paws Food Bank has stepped up to take care of that.
"We’re so happy they’ve partnered with us," Mullaly says.
Four Paws is also supplying the shelters with necessary pet supplies during the winter months.
If a couple wants to stay and sleep together, Mullaly says, Stuart Wood would likely be their best option as Emerald Centre houses men on one side of the shelter and women on the other.
Because winter arrived slightly earlier than usual this year, donations to the shelters are needed now. Mullaly asks anyone who can to donate mittens, toques, scarves, socks or any other winter attire to drop them off at The Clubhouse on Seymour Street or Emerald Centre on Victoria Street.
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