Following a four-night reprieve from the cold, some members of Penticton’s homeless community were back on the streets Monday night.
They spent the weekend at the Seventh Day Adventist Church at 290 Warren Ave., which operated as an extreme weather response centre from the evening Friday, Nov. 11, through the morning of Monday, Nov. 14, according to BC Housing.
“We are grateful that the Seventh Day Adventist Church agreed to open their doors to provide shelter to up to 30 people during this past weekend’s cold snap in Penticton. This shelter was always intended to be an emergency response to get people off the street and into a safe, warm space for the weekend,” the agency said in a statement Monday.
Traditional winter shelters, like the one that operated for two years at the old Victory Church in downtown Penticton, are open from November through March. By contrast, extreme weather response centre like the one at the Seventh Day Adventist Church operate on an as-needed basis when the temperature dips below a pre-determined point, which is – 7 C in Penticton.
While it was BC Housing that covered the cost of running the shelter – which was still listed online as of Monday as an available 30-bed facility – it was the 100 Homes Penticton umbrella group of service agencies that actually operated it.
And with the official start of winter yet to come, 100 Homes Penticton is still working to secure locations for future extreme weather response centres in the city, according to Naomi Woodland of United Way BC, which provides administrative support to the group.
Shelter location guidelines approved in May 2021 by Penticton city council allow extreme weather shelters to operate without temporary use permits – effectively exempting them from the local zoning bylaw – provided the municipality is notified in advance.
Penticton’s main shelter location is 1706 Main Street, which has 73 beds available in two facilities.