Temporary shelter opens in Salmon Arm; permanent shelter space still sought

FILE. Salmon Arm's Salvation Army operated homeless shelter closed last May. Megan Turcato / Global News

After a long, cold start to winter, Salmon Arm, B.C., now has a new temporary shelter.

“We recognize the urgent need to offer safe, indoor housing to those currently sheltering outside in Salmon Arm,” Ravi Kahlon, minister of housing, said in a press release.

Located at the Downtown Activity Centre at 451 Shuswap St., the new shelter will be open from 8 p.m. until 6 a.m. daily, providing a place to stay for approximately 20 people.

The shelter is the result of a partnership between the province, Canadian Mental Health Association Shuswap Revelstoke (CMHA-SR) and the City of Salmon Arm.

Guests at the new shelter will have access to warm meals, hygiene facilities, off-site warming centres during the day and referrals to health services.

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The typically seasonal, Salvation Army-operated shelter that had been open year-round during the pandemic closed in May 2022 and despite efforts to find a replacement, BC Housing has not found a new way forward until now.

CMHA-SR will operate the new shelter. CMHA-SR operates a number of housing programs in Salmon Arm, including supportive housing and housing for families and seniors.

“We are pleased that we have been able to secure a temporary space for a winter shelter at 451 Shuswap St.,” Dawn Dunlop, executive director of CMHA-SR, said.

“This has been the result of many partners working together. We are excited to open the space and look forward to welcoming and supporting people in our community.”

The space in the Downtown Activity Centre has been leased by BC Housing from Jan. 1 until April 30. Additionally, BC Housing will continue searching for an appropriate permanent shelter location in Salmon Arm.

The Lighthouse shelter, which was operated by the Salvation Army, informed BC Housing that it did not have enough staff to sustain the operations of the local food bank and the shelter, which operate at the same site. As a result, the shelter closed on May 31, BC Housing said in a statement last month.

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“Despite having funding available and conducting regular searches in the community for adequate locations, we have not yet been able to secure a location to replace this shelter.”

A representative of the Crown corporation pointed out that everyone deserves a safe and secure place to stay, which is why they are searching for a site that can be operational year-round to avoid further shelter relocations.

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