Peace Portal Alliance Church, at the corner of King George Boulevard and 152 Street, is the extreme-weather shelter for South Surrey for the upcoming season. (Tracy Holmes photo)

Peace Portal Alliance Church, at the corner of King George Boulevard and 152 Street, is the extreme-weather shelter for South Surrey for the upcoming season. (Tracy Holmes photo)

Cold snap causes concern for South Surrey homeless population

Shelters are running at capacity, COVID-19 restrictions adding stress to system

As the mercury drops, concerns are being raised for the homeless population who might have no option but to sleep outside.

This week is to be one of the coldest of the season thus far, with overnight temperatures expected to drop to a low of -8C and continue to fall below freezing overnight until Saturday.

Options Community Services senior program manager Bruce Strom said space in emergency shelters is limited. In two of the last five days, Strom said, more than 50 clients showed up for service at the Peace Portal Alliance Church extreme-weather shelter. The facility only has space for 20 people.

“But we don’t turn everybody away without at least providing some services to them like food, let them use the washrooms, showers if it’s really necessary. Even without the cold snap, we’re already pretty much running at capacity, as are most of the other temporary shelters in the Surrey/Delta area,” Strom said Tuesday.

SEE ALSO: ‘It’s not a surprise’: Surrey’s extreme weather shelter coordinator ‘desperate’ for spaces

Strom said once the shelter reaches capacity, staff contact other locations in the city to see if there are any beds available. Options staff also provide bus tickets to people to help them get to a shelter that has space.

“Sometimes there are beds here and there, but of course during this cold snap, we’re likely to see that not be an option. Most of the beds are going to be taken up pretty quickly each evening.”

Another issue for people trying to find a warm, dry place to sleep is that shelters are running at reduced capacity. Physical distancing measures have also been put in place due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“That adds a whole bunch of extra challenges because it means less people being able to access services throughout the Fraser Valley,” Strom said.

Not only does the cold snap cause concern for the homeless population overnight, but the City of Surrey lacks places for people to keep warm during the day, Strom said.

“Our emergency shelters are set up through the night so then, come the morning, the doors close…. People are then out on the street in whatever minus degree weather it is,” Strom said.

“They used to be able to go to libraries and rec centres and places like that. Those options aren’t available for people now, so I’m really concerned about what’s going to happen through this cold snap.”

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

HomelessSurreyWhite Rock

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

South Surrey’s Historic Stewart Farm. (City of Surrey photo)
City receives $400K grant to build Indigenous Carving Centre in South Surrey

Construction of showcase venue to be completed mid-2022

Premier John Horgan with drawings of replacement bridge for the Pattullo during a February 2018 presser. (File photo: Tom Zytaruk)
Surrey city staff want to act on council’s behalf for ‘minor’ changes to new Pattullo

The old bridge’s replacement is expected to be open for traffic in the fall of 2023

Marchers in support of Indian farmers walk along King George Boulevard in Surrey on Sunday afternoon, March 7, from Bear Creek to Holland Park. (Photo: Tom Zillich)
‘It won’t end’: Protesters march for Indian Farmers at another Surrey rally, with more to come

Across Surrey, more and more vehicles are seen with ‘No Farmers, No Food’ stickers and flags

The emergency department at Peace Arch Hospital in White Rock, B.C., in July 2020. (Black Press Media)
Peace Arch Hospital Foundation reaches $12 million goal

New operating suites to open this fall

(The Canadian Press)
‘Worse than Sept. 11, SARS and financial crisis combined’: Tourism industry in crisis

Travel services saw the biggest drop in active businesses with 31 per cent fewer firms operating

Is it safe to give your dog some peanut butter? Not always, BC SPCA warns

Some commercial peanut butter ingredients can be harmful to dogs

Health Minister Adrian Dix, front, B.C. Premier John Horgan and provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry arrive for a news conference about the provincial response to the coronavirus, in Vancouver, B.C., Friday, March 6, 2020. Pandemic emergency measures have been in place for almost a year. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
B.C. officials plead for patience as 1.7 million COVID-19 calls flood in

Vaccine registration for 90-plus seniors opened Monday

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

A West Kootenay man died in an avalanche on March 4 while snowmobiling near Mount Payne, which is indicted by the red flag. Illustration: Google Maps
B.C. father of 3 dead after avalanche in West Kootenay

The man was snowmobiling with a group when incident occurred March 4

A health-care worker prepares a dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine at a UHN COVID-19 vaccine clinic in Toronto on Thursday, January 7, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
Vaccine hesitancy decreases in B.C. as mass immunizations set to begin: poll

Two-thirds of British Columbians, and Canadians, would get the vaccine as soon as possible

Software engineer Shaimma Yehia, 40, has been forced to re-skill during the COVID-19 pandemic after more than six years of unsuccessfully applying for jobs in B.C.’s tech industry. (Submitted photo/Shaimma Yehia)
Why skilled immigrant women continue to be shut out of B.C.’s booming tech sector

Experienced software engineer Shaimma Yehia, 40, hasn’t found a job since she migrated to Canada 6 years ago

Ron Sivorot, business director at Kennametal’s Langford site, the Greater Victoria facility that made a component being used on NASA’s Perseverance rover on Mars. (Jake Romphf, Black Press Media)
NASA’s Perseverance Mars rover digging in with B.C.-made part

Kennametal’s Langford plant’s tooth blank is helping the rover’s drill collect rock cores

Most Read