The city of Nanaimo has teamed up with the Nanaimo 7-10 Club Society to provide shelter from the cold to city residents. On Monday, December 20, 2021, Council approved funding for the establishment and operation of a temporary, daytime, extreme cold weather space at Caledonia Park, on Wall Street, north of the Nanaimo curling Club. The 7-10 Club Society has agreed to operate the day-use shelter and began operations on December 27, 2021.
According to a release from the City, the shelter “will operate from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m., only on days when cold weather conditions are deemed severe enough to present a substantial threat to the life or health of vulnerable persons. The space has a capacity for up to 10 to 12 people.”
“Providing an extreme weather day-use space for people experiencing homelessness is recommended in the Health and Housing Action Plan (HHAP), Nanaimo Action Plan to End Homelessness, and the Climate Change Resilience Strategy.”
The warming centre is operating in the same park space as the free shower program, operated by the First Unitarian Fellowship of Nanaimo and funded by the City of Nanaimo.
“Having a number of choices to shelter in extreme weather ensures more individuals the opportunity to utilize services in which they feel comfortable doing so,” says Gordon Fuller, Executive Director of the Nanaimo 7 10 Club Society.
There are two other daytime warming centres operating. Earlier this week, the Canadian Mental Health Association took over operations of the centre at 489 Wallace Street. That site was forced to close after funding problems and allegations of misappropriation of funds by someone connected to the previous operator.
A third site at 43 Commercial Street is operated by Risebridge Midisland Culture Connection Society.
A winter overnight shelter opened on November 24, 2021 at St. Peter’s Church to provide 24 additional overnight shelter spaces from 10 p.m. to 7 a.m. until March 31, 2022. The winter shelter is operated jointly by the Nanaimo Region John Howard Society and the Nanaimo Family Life Association. The year round Unitarian shelter (595 Townsite Road) and Salvation Army New Hope Centre (19 Nicol Street) also remain open for those requiring emergency shelter.
For more information on services and supports for Nanaimo’s vulnerable population, visit www.nanaimo.ca/goto/supportsandservices.
* Last winter, two full-time warming centres opened at 285 Prideaux Street and 489 Wallace Street, funded from the Government of Canada’s Reaching Home (RH) program’s COVID allocation. In 2020, the City funded an extreme weather day-use space from January 12-19 at 285 Prideaux Street, which was co-managed by the Salvation Army and the 7-10 Club.
* The building at 285 Prideaux Street, which previously hosted the 7-10 Breakfast Club and the January 2020 warming centre, has been leased to BC Housing to redevelop as supportive housing. As such, this building is no longer available for use as a temporary emergency warming centre.
* The 2020 Point in Time Homeless count found 433 people facing homelessness in Nanaimo; local service providers estimate the number is closer to 600.
* The extreme cold weather space had 12 unique users on opening day (December 27) and 18 users each on the 28th and 29th.
*source: City of Nanaimo