Extreme weather shelter sees first opening of season

Burnaby's extreme weather shelter saw its first opening of the season last weekend, providing a meal and a warm place to sleep for a total of four homeless people.

Dave Brown of Lookout Emergency Aid Society, which oversees operations at the shelter, said on each of the three nights three people used the facility.

The shelter is at the same location as last year, the Westminster Bible Chapel at 7540 6th St., and is open 7 p.m. to 7 a.m. until March 31 on nights when weather is severe enough to pose a higher health risk to homeless people.

"The church is totally supportive of what we're doing," said Brown, noting its members provided the space as well as some volunteers.

The Burnaby Extreme Weather Response team sends out notices to alert people of shelter openings through service providers, police, fire and ambulance and posters put up at public facilities such as libraries and community centres.

Volunteers are always needed, particularly at 6 a.m. when the shelter facility is packed up and cleaned, said Brown, noting the church must be vacated by 7 a.m.

The team is also seeking donations of socks, underwear, hoodies and warm sweaters along with non-perishable food items which can be distributed to shelter clients.

Donations can be dropped off at the Lookout society's Cliff Block, 606 Clarkson St., New Westminster, or at Progressive Housing Society, 7836 6th St., Burnaby.

Extreme weather conditions that may result in the shelter opening include temperatures at or below 0 C, combined with significant snow, severe wind and extended rainfall.

To volunteer, call 778-288-8887.

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