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.


@CHWKjourno
jfeinberg@theprogress.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Just Posted

Variable speed limit system coming for Highway 3 near Hope

Congestion based system in testing phase between Chilliwack and Abbotsford by early 2020

IN PHOTOS: Daze of Derby a big hit in Chilliwack

Chilliwack’s NWO Roller Girls hosted its annual day-long roller derby event on the weekend

Cineplex to show free holiday movies to support Boys and Girls Clubs of Canada

Community Day will be on Dec. 7 from 9 a.m. to 11 a.m at select theatres

Chilliwack Players Guild presents beloved classic ‘A Christmas Carol’

The Chilliwack Players Guild brings famous Dickens tale to life at the Chilliwack Cultural Centre

Hope Secondary teacher disciplined for inappropriate contact with student

Female teacher pursued Grade 12 student for friendship even after being rebuked

VIDEO: Disney Plus gives Canadians a streaming platform that nearly matches U.S. version

The Walt Disney Company’s new subscription platform unveiled a comprehensive offering of nearly 500 films

Sex assault charge stayed against Port Moody mayor

Rob Vagramov appeared in provincial court in Port Coquitlam

73% of B.C. residents agree with a temporary ban on vaping products: poll

54% say they would not date someone who vapes, Research Co. poll suggests

B.C.’s 13-cent gasoline gap still a mystery, Premier John Horgan says

NDP plans legislation this month, seeks action from Justin Trudeau

Former Vancouver Canucks player suing financial advisors for negligence

Jason Garrison claimed his advisors failed to take his circumstances into account

Group walking on thin ice at B.C. lake sparks warning from RCMP

At least seven people were spotted on Joffre Lakes, although the ice is not thick enough to be walked on

B.C. teacher said he would use student to ‘whack’ two others on Grade 8 field trip

Campbell River teacher-on-call suspended three weeks after November 2018 incident

Petition to ‘bring back Don Cherry’ goes viral after immigrant poppy rant

Cherry was fired from his co-hosting role for the Coach’s Corner segment on Nov. 11.

Bill Murray dons iconic Hudson’s Bay scarf to watch Canucks game in Vancouver

Murray is in Vancouver to film The Now, a mini-series directed by Peter Farrelly

Most Read