Terrace, B.C. homeless shelter shuts down early

A decision to close the extreme weather shelter was made last weekend as temperatures rose slightly

Lock-up time at the extreme weather shelter located at Davis and Sparks. Currently the overnight shelter is closed because of the warmer weather

WARMER weather than first anticipated this winter and less moisture overall factored into a decision to close Terrace’s extreme weather shelter for the homeless a month earlier than originally planned, says the director of the Ksan House Society which ran the shelter.

The decision to close the shelter as of Feb. 26 followed guidelines set down by BC Housing, the provincial agency which provided the money to run the shelter, said Amanda Bains.

“We closed the damp shelter last week because the weather was warm,” Bains explained today.

“We have a contract that says it needs to be certain temperatures to be open and so if the weather doesn’t fall within that we close.”

Bains said the closure was a tough call to make, but the decision had to do with “the fact that it was dry and the fact that it was above zero.”

“It’s not me saying that I think people can stay outside, sleep in the bush, it’s that we have to follow the rules of our contract,” she said.

Bains said the extreme shelter was still averaging about 10 clients a night or half capacity of the 20 beds available at the time of its closure.

Those 20 beds were offered up at the All Nations Centre on the corner of Sparks and Davis which during the weekdays is the home of a Terrace and District Community Services Society day program for homeless and others.

It’s owned by a society backed by the Seventh Day Adventist Church which itself offers a soup kitchen on Sundays.

The extreme weather shelter is popularly called a “damp shelter” because it provides beds for people who have been drinking.

To make up for the early closure, Bains said the Ksan House Society’s regular shelter on Hall St. which has 16 beds normally available, has expanded its overflow spots from four to eight.

And she’s monitoring the weather this week, and will make the call to reopen the extreme weather shelter if the weather gets worse.

“We look at the weather daily, so any chance that the weather falls within that criteria, we would reopen,” she said.

The Ksan extreme weather shelter contract with BC Housing is to finish the end of March regardless.

It opened last October, earlier than usual, in anticipation of colder weather and a high homeless population.

The closure has been in effect since Feb. 26, and in recent days, the Terrace RCMP police report contained descriptions of homeless people found sleeping in ATM vestibules and the Mills Memorial Hospital washroom.

“Numerous bank vestibules were noted with people inside attempting to keep warm due to lack of other options,” read a March 1 RCMP report.