Extra homeless shelters added as city grapples with cold snap

By Vanessa Ybarra
December 5, 2016 - 5:01pm Updated: December 5, 2016 - 5:37pm

KAMLOOPS — If it feels especially cold in Kamloops today, that's because it is.

Environment Canada says an arctic airmass is currently sweeping across the province, bringing with it very frigid temperatures.

Forecasters say Kamloops Monday night low will dip down to -9, with Tuesday's high expected to be the same.

Emergency shelter workers say they're ready. 

"Every year from November 1 to March 31 we operate an emergency shelter program," said Erica Bouffioux, Shelter Manager with Emerald House. "Basically what the program is is we don't want to turn away anybody who's requiring shelter for the night."

Kamloops Emerald Centre is the cities main shelter, offering 40 beds for our cities homeless to sleep in.

Due to high demand, this year the centre has partnered with New Life Community Kamloops to ensure no one's left out in the cold.

"We'll have 25 beds," said Regan Wilson, Outreach Center Manager for New Life Community Kamloops. "People will be able to come here from 7 p.m. to 7 a.m. and stay where it's warm and comfortable."

Wilson says he hopes to have the centre's chapel turned into a shelter by the end of the week. 

He says the additional facility will help ease the fears that come this time of year for the cities less fortunate.

"The experience is they're not really prepared for it," Wilson said. "All of a sudden they've gone from 'I'm ok' to 'I'm freezing.' They don't really have their winter boots yet because they've been waiting until this cold snap comes."

New Life staff say the demand is so high they can barely keep boots on the shelf. 

For Jonathan Jabalee, who camped across Canada the last five years, his three-week stay at the Emerald House in November was an extremely positive one. 

"They helped us find housing, supplied us with food, blanket vouchers, pillows, dishes that we needed," Jabalee said. "They're very up-to-date." 

Another man at New Life Community Kamloops, who wished to remain anonymous, said he was thankful to find a place that provided daily shelter and meals in the city. 

"All these people here, they provide for everybody, which is good."

With Environment Canada forecasting lower-than-normal Interior temperatures until the end of the week, all city residents are being told to bundle up, or better yet ask for help. 

"We want to make sure that everybody has a comfortable warm place to stay," said Bouffioux.

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