City of Vancouver opens warming centres ahead of snow and ice in the forecast

With snow and freezing temperatures in the forecast this weekend, the City of Vancouver is opening up additional indoor spaces for people who are homeless.

Warming centres will be open from Jan 22-27 to anyone sleeping outside, including those with pets and carts, the city said in a news release on Friday. Hot drinks and snacks will be provided.

Those experiencing homelessness are encouraged to visit the following locations:

  • Powell Street Getaway – 528 Powell St. – 9 p.m. – 7 a.m.
  • Vancouver Aquatic Centre – 1050 Beach Ave. – 10 p.m. – 7 a.m.
  • Creekside Community Centre – 1 Athletes Way – 10 p.m. – 7 a.m.

All sites have reduced capacity to support physical distancing amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

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Read more: With cold setting in, B.C. homeless advocates say more shelters, warming space needed

“We just want to make sure that people know that they can come inside and be safe and warm,” said Celine Mauboules, the city’s managing director of housing policy and homelessness service.

Warming centres are activated when the temperature reaches -5 degrees Celsius or below. So far this winter, the facilities have been activated for 59 nights.

Crews will also monitor the weather and respond with a coordinated plan, the city said.

Major roads, bus routes, bridges and the 15 most used pathways and bike routes are being treated with brine ahead of the potential snow and ice.

“We’ve got over 100 vehicles and equipment,” said Amy Sidwell, manager of street operations.

“We’ve got 3,000 ton of salt on site and we have hundreds of resources to redeploy as needed.”

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To assist essential workers, the city asked residents to only travel on roads and bike routes if necessary and to help clear storm drains and sidewalks.

“All Vancouver property owners and any tenants living in those properties are required to clear the full width of their sidewalk of snow and ice after a snowfall each morning, seven days a week,” Sidwell said.

If you are unable to clear your own walk and have no other alternatives, residents can sign up for the Snow Angel Program to be connected to a volunteer.

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