As the arrival of winter threatens the safety and well-being of Terrace’s homeless, the Ksan House Society has once again opened its extreme weather shelter.
About five people a night are currently making use of the shelter, located on Hall St., most of whom are chronic alcoholics, says Ksan house manager, Rob McVey. Open as of Nov. 9, the shelter offers a warm bed, hot meal and laundry facilities for a night to the city’s people with nowhere to go during times of cold and wet weather.
“Our objective is basically to provide them with a safe, warm place to sleep at night,” McVey said, explaining with the high humidity, wind and rain found in Terrace winters, hypothermia is a danger to people spending the night outdoors. “It keeps them off the street in the middle of the night.”
The shelter typically runs from November to March or April, starting when the temperature hits about two degrees.
A person must be absolutely homeless to use the facility, which means a person who lives in public places without legal claim.
Once in the shelter, any alcohol, electronics and valuables must be handed over to staff for the night, to be returned upon departure in the morning. Narcotics of any kind are not allowed.
McVey said there has only been one night so far this year where the shelter has been at its maximum capacity, which is 10 beds. He explained the shelter gives Ksan House Society a second option for people who need some place to go, but are not sober, and therefore not allowed in the regular shelter.
“We need to find a place for them to go,” McVey explained.
Any persons who arrive too intoxicated are taken away by local RCMP to either the police station or the hospital, depending on their condition.
Ksan House has a good relationship with the local RCMP, said McVey.
Beds come on a first-come, first-served basis and should a person decide to leave at any point in the night, that person is not able to return.
Last year, the emergency shelter had its busiest winter ever, with 1,142 stays, with 948 males and 182 females staying the night. Twelve of the male stays were by persons under the age of 19.
It was open for 157 days, with an average of 7.2 people per night.