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Regina council, province approve funding for warming space

As temperatures drop in the Queen City, local organizations prepare to ensure the vulnerable population will have a warm place and donated items to keep them warm. Derek Putz / Global News

A new warming space is on the horizon in Regina all thanks to recently announced funding from Regina city council and the Ministry of Social Services.

The city is working with Carmichael Outreach to get the ball rolling on the new warming space.

“The City of Regina is grateful to partner with the Province of Saskatchewan in supporting this additional warming space for our community,” Mayor Sandra Masters said in a release. “We are committed to continually improving access and services for residents during cold weather events.”

Click to play video: 'Carmichael Outreach in search of $350,000 for overnight warming shelter'
Carmichael Outreach in search of $350,000 for overnight warming shelter

Regina’s council approved $100,000 in new funding for the city’s Cold Weather Strategy and the Ministry of Social Services provided additional support with a $200,000 grant.

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“We are pleased to assist in making this important initiative possible through a $200,000 grant from the province to support the City of Regina’s Cold Weather Strategy,” Social Services Minister Gene Makowsky stated in a release. “Through this collaboration, more vulnerable people in Regina will have access this winter to supports needed to assist them on their path to achieving stability and stable housing.”

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The warming space will be located at Carmichael Outreach in the multipurpose room. Guests will have a warm space indoors where they will be provided with coffee and a little snack for the evening. The hours will be from 11 p.m. to 7 a.m. Details on when the warming space will be operational have yet to be announced and will be released when they become available.

“We’re just really grateful for all of the partners and we’re really excited that we get this opportunity to serve the community in another way,” said Tyler Gelsinger, Carmichael Outreach executive director. “We’re just looking for the next adventure from this. So, yeah, it’s really exciting here at Carmichael.”

In the meantime, a warming bus will be placed in front of Carmichael Outreach to provide warmth later this week as the temperatures drop.  The warming bus will stay operational until the indoor warming space is available for the transition. More details on operating hours will be forthcoming in the next couple of days, the release read.

This work is part of the Cold Weather Strategy that works with existing services to support situational awareness and co-ordinate efforts among human service sectors and community-based organizations to ensure that unsheltered individuals and other populations in vulnerable contexts have access to warming spaces and services during the winter months.

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As Carmichael Outreach prepares plans for the warming space, it continues to make a callout to the public for donations of warm clothing items as temperatures become frigid this week.

“This morning, we had a huge lineup outside the door. It was snowing all weekend, and a lot of people came in, they were cold (and) they were wet,” said Chrysta Garner with Carmichael Outreach. “Our goal right now is just making sure that everybody’s warm, everybody has something dry and doing what we can with what we have.”

Click to play video: 'Regina warming shelter sees increase in visitors as temperatures drop'
Regina warming shelter sees increase in visitors as temperatures drop

The Newo Yotina Friendship Centre is also looking for donated items such as winter coats, ski pants, boots, heavy socks and gloves.

“With this cold front hitting us — and I think it’ll be here to stay for a while — most of our winter coats are all gone, and we have no boots whatsoever. No socks. Like, all of our stuff is gone,” said Emile Gariepy, Newo Yotina Friendship Centre harm reduction manager. “We’re not looking for minor clothing, like T-shirts and stuff like that. We really want some heavy winter gear for people to stay warm outside.”

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All Nations Hope and Awasiw Centre also provide warm clothing essentials for winter to those in need but most of the time, the donated items never last and they make continuous calls for donations.

“As soon as they come in the door, people (who are) sitting around get up (to) come and take their pick, put them on even before they hit the donation table,” Awasiw outreach manager Joe Bear said.

All local organizations urge the public to reach out to see what items are needed for donation.

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