The Town of Gibsons says funding has now come through for a cold-weather homeless shelter, which will open Dec. 1.
Council approved leasing the Marine Room in the Arts Building on South Fletcher Road to RainCity Housing at a Nov. 5 in-camera session, and work has been underway to renovate the space and convert an existing washroom into a shower. The BC Housing funding will also cover the cost of the renovations, and the Town will receive $500 a week for use of the space.
Winter-response shelters in B.C. usually open on Nov. 1, but the plan for the Gibsons shelter had to be changed when a fire damaged the Salvation Army offices on Gibsons Way, which was supposed to be the shelter site.
Mayor Bill Beamish said this week that the arrangement is intended as a short-term solution until the repairs at the Salvation Army are completed, a job Beamish said could take until after Christmas.
Beamish told council Nov. 19 that RainCity Housing and Town officials met with representatives from the Gibsons Public Library, the Sunshine Coast Museum and Archives and the daycare centre that occupy nearby buildings, as well as neighbourhood residents. “There was unanimous support for it to go forward, understanding that it’s an interim measure – there really was no other option for a shelter this year.”
“Many in the community have been asking when we’ll be able to welcome people back inside,” said Isaac Malmgren, RainCity associate director in a release from the Town. “Gaining the support of the Town with the use of the Marine Room enables us to get back on schedule and get the doors open as quickly as possible.”
Malmgren also said the location is ideal. “A number of our regular shelter residents frequent the library during the daytime hours and have relationships with service providers and local community. The site is also close to the downtown area and readily accessible by transit.”
RainCity will have a minimum of two staff members to be onsite and the shelter will operate seven days a week, from 6 p.m. to 8 a.m., and will be able to accommodate up to 15 people.The Town said it hopes to offer shelter clients a hot meal and it plans to use a bed reservation system so people won’t have to line up.