Two emergency winter shelters finally open in Kamloops | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

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Two emergency winter shelters finally open in Kamloops

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A combined 43 beds are now open for people who need emergency shelter in Kamloops a week after they were supposed to open.

The Mustard Seed and Out of the Cold Kamloops will operate the former Yacht Club and Stuart Wood Elementary shelters, respectively. They will be open each day from 8 p.m. to 8 a.m.

The Yacht Club shelter will include four full-time staff members and a security guard on site, according to a news release issued by The Mustard Seed today, Nov. 8.

“This emergency winter shelter is an amazing opportunity and vital life-saving measure for our brothers and sisters living on the streets. They will have a space, where they will be safe, warm and loved," Nyasha Manyane, Mustard Seed operations director said in release. The shelter will open tonight.

The City announced in a news release yesterday that Out of the Cold will operate the Stuart Wood shelter just hours before it accepted its first overnight tenants of the season. The City did not specify how many staff would be on site or whether there would be security.

"The City would like to thank Out of the Cold and BC Housing for their dedication to getting this shelter up and running so quickly," Byron McCorkell, City community and protective services director, said in the release. "It's important for the safety of staff and shelter guests that staff have the appropriate training and resources to meet the needs of the people staying at the shelter, and that doesn't happen overnight."

Both of those shelters were planned to be opened Nov. 1, but when the Canadian Mental Health Association (CMHA) announced it would not operate those facilities, the City and B.C. Housing scrambled to find new social agencies to take them on.

Renee Stein of Out of the Cold told her organization was initially planning to work three days per week at the Stuart Wood shelter before CMHA backed out.

Alfred Achoba of CMHA, however, said there was no formal agreement or confirmation with B.C. Housing that CMHA would operate either shelter this season. The non-profit's decision not to take on more shelter operations meant there were no additional shelters opened when winter weather set in.

The Loop, which is not formally authorized to operate as a shelter, stepped up to take on clients overnight instead, bringing in dozens of people over the last week.

Now that the former Yacht Club and Stuart Wood shelters are running, there are now 209 shelter beds available across the city, according to a City news release.

That does not include The Loop or the 24-hour warming centres now opened at ASK Wellness' Crossroads Inn and Spero House.

Those two warming centres helped 46 people get out of the cold last night, and 48 people stayed at Stuart Wood last night, which is nearly twice its capacity.

“This is what makes Kamloops, Kamloops — we look out for one another and we work together to make things happen,” McCorkell said. “ASK Wellness recognized a dangerous situation with full shelter beds and a sub-zero forecast, pulled everyone together to figure out how to make this happen, and likely saved lives.”

To contact a reporter for this story, email Levi Landry or call 250-819-3723 or email the editor. You can also submit photos, videos or news tips to the newsroom and be entered to win a monthly prize draw.

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