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White Rock warming centre to stay open through March

Council votes for service to become daily regardless of temperature
An emergency daytime warming centre pilot program was operated in White Rock’s Centennial Arena parking lot through March 15, 2022. (Contributed photo)

White Rock council has voted to keep the city’s emergency daytime warming shelter at Centennial Park open through March 31, regardless of the day’s temperature.

The unanimous vote came at council’s regular meeting on Dec. 5.

In both verbal and written reports to council, planning and development services director Anne Berry had recommended keeping the shelter open daily to provide “consistency for those experiencing homelessness during the winter 2022-2023 period.”

In addition, she said, allowing the centre to remain open would reduce unauthorised camping in the area of the centre, and also eliminate the need for staff to monitor the site daily during closure to suggest alternative sheltering possibilities to users.

The daytime warming centre opened on Nov. 9. this year, but was closed between Nov. 19 and Nov. 27.

READ ALSO: Emergency daytime warming centre re-opens in White Rock

“Because of some of the challenges with the site when it’s closed, at this time staff is recommending that council direct us to keep the site open for the whole five-month period, regardless of what the current weather temperature is, Berry said.

Prior to the vote, the centre, which is operated under contract with the city by Engaged Communities Canada Society, required a minimum of three days notice to open, and would then have to be kept open for a minimum of seven consecutive days.

“Typically the opening and closing of the centre is based on what the temperature is,” Berry said. “So, basically it feels like zero (Celsius), or it is, in fact zero or below.”

The other contingency was that it was based on being run in tandem with the operation of the Mount Olive Lutheran Church nighttime shelter – but Berry said since signing the letter of agreement with ECCS in September, Mount Olive’s shelter is now open nightly, regardless of weather conditions.

Berry said the move would not have any budgetary impact since budgeting (via a UBCM grant, with costs also split 50/50 with the City of Surrey) already provides for warming centre services throughout the entire five-month period.

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