March 2, 2019 5:00 pm
Updated: March 5, 2019 4:41 pm

Vancouver council to vote on keeping winter homeless shelters open year-round

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Vancouver city council will vote Tuesday on a motion to keep the city’s winter shelters open year-round.

The city brings 300 additional shelter spaces online for the winter months, but those spaces are slated to close on March 31.

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According to COPE Coun. Jean Swanson’s motion, those spaces are badly needed — with more than 4,000 people already on BC Housing’s Vancouver wait list.

The city’s 2018 homeless count found 2,181 homeless people in Vancouver, 659 of them who were living on the street.

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“All residents should have a safe warm place to come inside during all months in order to provide mental and physical health,” reads Swanson’s motion.

It adds that there is not currently enough housing for people to go to when the shelters close.

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The city of Vancouver is voting on a measure to keep the 300 additional winter warming spaces open all year round.

The motion also cites reports to the city from the Downtown Vancouver Business Association suggesting street homelessness drops over the winter when the additional spaces are open.

If passed, the motion would direct city staff to work with BC Housing to keep the shelters open all year, 24 hours a day.

The motion makes no estimate on the cost of keeping the shelters open, or potential funding sources to support the idea.

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