The old Lions Flea Market building on Yale Road at Williams Street will be home to a winter shelter for the homeless starting Dec. 1. (Jenna Hauck/ The Progress)

Winter shelter for Chilliwack to open just before winter weather sets in

Collaborative effort yields results to get those precariously housed off the streets

It’s an interim fix to address the “urgent need” to house people huddled in the streets of downtown Chilliwack.

A 40-bed shelter is set to open on December 1 in the former Lions Flea Market building on Yale Road East at Williams Street.

The “24/7 Winter Shelter” will be operated by Ruth and Naomi’s Mission, funded by BC Housing, in collaboration with City of Chilliwack. It will provide daytime shelter, and emergency beds at night for the estimated 25 to 30 people living precariously in the downtown care, with more in makeshift camps all over town.

READ MORE: Last year was first time for winter shelter funding

“The building isn’t zoned for this use, so we had to create a way to make it happen,” explained Mayor Ken Popove.

Council voted Tuesday to refrain from enforcing its Zoning bylaw or the BC Building Code regulations for the four months the winter shelter will be open. A temporary use permit would have taken too long to get approved for the building zoned for commercial use.

The city staff report provided for council mapped out why the shelter was so urgently necessary, in the wake of makeshift camps popping up and the subsequent impacts all around:

“Homelessness is increasing in Chilliwack and respective impacts on the community continue to grow with it,” reads the reports.

Both shelters at Salvation Army and RAN have reported having to turn away people in recent months as they are operating at full capacity. Neither location had the capacity to accommodate any extra “extreme weather response” beds for this winter.

“The establishment of a four-month winter shelter would provide additional shelter beds and daytime place for people to gather, and potentially avail themselves of services, until such time as the new units become available in February/March 2019,” according to the report to council.

READ MORE: Winter hit hard early in 2017

The “high level of need for shelter” guided the speed with which they are trying to secure the space. A Chilliwack Fire Department inspection has called for some modifications including fire extinguishers and a fire safety plan prior to occupancy.

It will be staffed around the clock, with a security plan in place, as well as a Good Neighbour Agreement. The timing and the location were good, since the modular supportive housing project at the old Traders Inn site is taking applications and is set to open in early 2019.

“There’s such a great need for this in our community,” said Mayor Popove, adding the partners, led by Bill Raddatz at RAN, have been working hard behind the scenes to set it all up. “Plus they are already there in the downtown core, so let’s get them inside. Winter hasn’t hit quite yet, but it is right around the corner.”

The fact that they’ll access support services and see outreach workers at the shelter is “super important,” Popove said.

“Of course it is good to warm people up in a shelter, but if we can help them, even better.”

The key aspect is that reps from health and social services will be scheduled to connect with those at the shelter who have previously been living rough, providing them opportunities to stabilize their health and their housing situation.

By the time the shelter is closed in April, the idea is that the 92 modular housing units green-lighted for Chilliwack with high supports, and 115 affordable rental apartments will be open, alleviating the need for ongoing shelter beds.

“Adding 40 beds to the emergency shelter continuum is going to make a huge impact,” he said.

The 5500-square-foot building at 46293 Yale Road, with “suitable space for storage and the installation of beds” for women and men in separate rooms, two washrooms and kitchen space in addition to a secure, fenced off area at the back for bike storage.


Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

UPDATE: Chilliwack youth coach acquitted of sexual touching of a minor

BC Supreme Court justice finds reasonable doubt despite not believing the accused

Motorists were ‘driving like their own Indy 500’ before fatal Abbotsford crash, court hears

Family member declares defence request for 90-day jail sentence a ‘joke’

World champion SFU Pipe Band comes to Chilliwack

SFU Pipe Band will put on a celebration of culture, music and heritage at Chilliwack Cultural Centre

Seven Days in Chilliwack

A list of community events happening in Chilliwack from Feb. 24 to March 1

Chilliwack biologist to speak on climate change at Green Party AGM

Dr. Carin Bondar is an author, adjunct professor and an explorer who has discovered new species

VIDEO: Illicit drug overdoses killed 981 in B.C. in 2019, down 38%

Chief coroner says figures were down about a third in the province’s fourth year of the opioid crisis

UPDATE: Protesters dismantle blockade on Maple Ridge tracks

West Coast Express train service is expected to run again Tuesday morning

VIDEO: B.C.’s seventh coronavirus patient at home in Fraser Health region

Canada in ‘containment’ as COVID-19 spreads in other countries

B.C. takes over another Retirement Concepts senior care home

Summerland facility latest to have administrator appointed

Man pleads guilty to stabbing woman, off-duty cop outside North Delta elementary school

The suspect, whose name is under a publication ban, faced 10 charges in relation to this incident

RCMP pull office from Wet’suwet’en territory, but hereditary chiefs still want patrols to end

Chief says temporary closure of field office not enough as Coastal GasLink pipeline dispute drags on

Prescription opioids getting B.C. addicts off ‘poisoned’ street drugs

Minister Judy Darcy says Abbotsford pilot project working

Royals, Elvis, Captain Cook: Hundreds of wax figures find new life in B.C. man’s home

Former director of Victoria’s Royal London Wax Museum still hopes to revive wax figure tourism

Teck CEO says Frontier withdrawal a result of tensions over climate, reconciliation

Don Lindsay speaks at mining conference, a day after announcing suspension of oilsands project

Most Read