The Cariboo Friendship Society’s (CFS) expansion of its emergency shelter to the Longhouse at the Stampede Grounds is almost ready to take in people.
Crews have brought in cubicles and 20 beds and Tamara Garreau, social programs supervisor for CFS, said staff is being hired so there will be two people working at the Longhouse 24/7.
BC Housing is funding the temporary shelter as well as five additional beds at the regular CFS emergency shelter on Third Avenue North for anybody waiting for a COVID-19 test result or those that are told to isolate for contract tracing.
“It’s an additional five beds and we discussed having those COVID beds at our main shelter where clients can close the door and be able to isolate better,” Garreau said.
Next to the Longhouse are storage containers that have been furnished with washrooms that have showers, toilets and sinks.
Meals will be provided at the Longhouse to anyone who is staying there by the CFS, Garreau added.
During the Legislature meeting Thursday, Dec. 10, Cariboo-Chilcotin MLA Lorne Doerkson voiced concerns about the COVID-19 pandemic’s impact on vulnerable people.
“I felt it was important to get the government’s attention and give them a first-hand perspective on how stricter pandemic regulations may unintentionally put vulnerable people on the street and in life-threatening danger,” said Doerkson.
Social distancing and stricter regulations have resulted in the reduced capacity of local shelters in just about every community in B.C., he said.
Doerkson said one of his constituents in Williams Lake has been forced out into the cold.
“I’m thinking about people in my riding who have no choice but to sleep outdoors in dangerous temperatures just because of the unintended consequences of stricter regulations,” Doerkson added.