Regina warming bus seeing good progress, community support strong

As the warming bus in downtown Regina sees its final days, organizers say this initiative has been a great success, especially with the community coming together with donations. Photo courtesy: Robert Kraushaar

Regina’s warming bus — a temporary initiative to provide relief for residents in need through this month’s cold snap — went into service nine days ago, and organizers say the program has been going well.

“The Downtown Community Support program has really good staff (who are) very knowledgeable. And they have good relationships with the people on the street, which makes everything flow so much smoother,” said Robert Kraushaar, a social worker and advocate. “It’s a lot better when you know somebody by name, and they make them feel more comfortable getting on the bus.”

The warming bus program started on Jan. 10, with Regina Transit providing a bus as a temporary overnight warming shelter through the recent cold snap. Located outside the Carmichael Outreach Centre, it has been operational from 9 p.m. to 9 a.m., seven days a week. The service will continue through the weekend.

Click to play video: 'Sask. reacts to Carmichael Outreach warming centre'
Sask. reacts to Carmichael Outreach warming centre

“It was kind of a little bit of mayhem … trying to make sure everything lined up,” Kraushaar said. “You have a bus with capacity (that) is supposed to be at 25, but your numbers are obviously going to be higher than that. So, staff is like standing room only … and it’s long shifts. Some of the challenges are just trying to get all of those different personalities to kind of mesh together in a relaxed setting where a good chunk of them want to sleep and a good chunk of them are freezing or hungry.”

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Kraushaar said when confined to a small space, mental health issues and addictions can be tricky to navigate. But he said he is grateful for the experienced team who are able to handle any situation.

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Organizers were in awe of how the community came together to bring donations of warm winter gear, food and hot drinks.

“There were lots of donations like juice boxes (and) water. Even if they couldn’t come on the bus, they were just happy to drop it off,” Kraushaar said. “There was a committee (that worked) on (having) consistent donations brought every night…. There were also lots of private donors that would stop by almost every night with stuff. So, it was pretty nice to see.”

In an email statement, the City of Regina said the warming bus will be phased out after the weekend and services will transition to an indoor warming space, which will be located inside Carmichael Outreach.

“The City is working in collaboration with Carmichael Outreach and the Regina Street Team to ensure that people who need temporary shelter have a place to go,” the statement read. “The warming space is available every night starting at 9 p.m.”

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