Homeless shelters packed amid cities second cold snap

By Vanessa Ybarra
January 4, 2017 - 5:41pm

KAMLOOPS — With mother nature wreaking havoc across the province this week, Kamloops residents are being warned to stay inside as much as possible.

Environment Canada says daytime temperatures aren't expected to get much warmer than -10, with no relief in sight for at least another 10 days.

But staying out of the cold isn't always an option for the homeless, and that's where the city's shelters come in.

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"We'll be full tonight," said Bud Forbes, Chair of the Out of the Cold program. "We'll have over 40 people for the meal and our 30 beds will be full."

Saint Paul's Anglican Cathedral has been running its 'Out of the Cold' program for the past three years, providing a safe, warm place for the cities homeless to sleep. 

"We get some transients but a lot of them have been our regulars that keep coming back," said Forbes." You can tell the newbies on the street, they come in here wearing a jean jacket and no gloves. They come in totally frozen."

With temperatures this week particularly frigid, hovering around the -15 to -20 mark, Forbes says you can expect their 28-bed shelter to be full for at least the next week, with donated goods also a hot demand. 

"Jackets, toques, socks, we go through a lot of socks this time of year," added Forbes.

Saint Paul's isn't the only one struggling to keep up. 

New Life Community Kamloops and its partner Emerald Centre, have also been packed to capacity this week.

"We had 14 or 15 people last night, " said Stan Dueck, Executive Director for New Life Community Kamloops. "I expect it'll fill up as it stays cold." 

With New Life funding down more than $10,000 compared to this time last year, the centre is reaching out to the public to ensure the homeless population stay warm this winter.

"We're always in need for gloves, coats, blankets, anything that would help us reduce expenses including turkeys, hamburger beef, and coffee. We go through so much coffee."

Dueck says cash donations are always welcome.

Back at Saint Paul's, the beds are made and ready for those who have nowhere else to turn.

"There's a great need," said Forbes. "We treat everybody with dignity and respect when they come in here. They feel very safe and welcome."

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