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Overnight shelter, daytime warming spaces open in Williams Lake as cold weather arrives

Recreation complex, Salvation Army, youth services open during the day
The city of Williams Lake is preparing to assist vulnerable residents as temperatures are expected to plummet later this week. (Angie Mindus file photo - Williams Lake Tribune)

With temperatures threatening to dip down below -20 C overnight in Williams Lake in the coming days there is concern that people without homes have a place to warm up.

The city’s well being and community safety coordinator Silvia Seibert-Dubray provided the Tribune with a list of options on Monday, Nov. 28, and said she was in the process of putting together a poster outlining the different options.

For the second winter in a row, Canadian Mental Health Association is collaborating with the Hamilton Inn and will have an extra four beds available nightly if someone is left out in the cold.

There will be one room with two beds for women and one room with two beds for men. Anyone using those beds will have access to a dinner, breakfast and a bagged lunch.

These four beds are in addition to the 30 beds that are already part of the low-barrier shelter accommodations at the Hamilton Inn.

Cariboo Friendship Society’s (CFS) shelter continues to offer beds.

Seibert-Dubray said the rooms there have double bunkbeds and have more than one person staying in the them.

“We do allow people to stay in our shelter if they have used, turn aways are based on behaviour and safety only,” noted Tamara Garreau, social programs supervisor, Cariboo Friendship Society.

Normally people leave the shelter during the day so the rooms can be cleaned, however, if the temperature dips below -10 C, clients can stay inside the TV room or game room at the CFS.

Daytime options

Daytime warming centres are available at the Cariboo Memorial Recreation Complex inside by the arena where there are tables to sit at and people can enter for a couple of hours to get out of the cold.

The Salvation Army common room is open downstairs between 9 a.m. and 3 p.m. Hot breakfast is being served from 9 a.m. to 9:45 a.m. in the dining hall and lunch from noon to 12:45 p.m.

The thrift store is also open Tuesday through Saturday and people are welcome to come and warm up inside.

“Coats, gloves, toques and blankets are available to give out from the Salvation Army,” Seibert-Dubray said.

Women’s Contact Society is open for women and children and has coats, hats and mitts to give away.

Youth can access a warming centre at the Boys and Girls Club Williams Lake between 3 p.m. and 8 p.m. There are also warm clothing, coats, mitts and hats available for distribution between 8:30 a.m. to 8 p.m.

The Foundry Cariboo Chilcotin, across the street from FreshCo on Fourth Avenue. East is open from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. for youth as well with showers and washers and driers available for use.

Additionally, navigator clinicians with Interior Health and the city’s bylaw officers are checking in on homeless people in the community and have supplies to give out such as blankets, hats and mitts.

Environment Canada’s forecast for Williams Lake indicates a low of -18 C Monday, -13C Tuesday, -19 C Wednesday, -28 C Thursday, -26 C Friday and -22 C Saturday.

With wind up to 15 km/h, the windchill makes the temperatures even lower.

Editor’s Note: This article has been updated from the original, with information from the Cariboo Friendship Society that the shelter does allow people to stay in the shelter if they have used, turn aways are based on behaviour and safety only.

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Monica Lamb-Yorski

About the Author: Monica Lamb-Yorski

A B.C. gal, I was born in Alert Bay, raised in Nelson, graduated from the University of Winnipeg, and wrote my first-ever article for the Prince Rupert Daily News.
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