What you need to know about the City of Burnaby's Temporary Emergency Warming Centre

Burnaby

2021-12-30 16:14 PST

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Snow and below freezing temperatures continue to affect all of our communities and are forecasted into next week.

As the extreme weather continues, all members of Burnaby Detachment are doing their best to do enhanced policing patrols to connect with folks who are homeless, vulnerable or appearing to be in need of support. Community Programs has put together care packages to hand out. They contain items such as toques, gloves, socks, water, granola bar, face mask, community resource cards and small food vouchers.

care package for homeless and most vulnerable

If anyone sees people in need, please offer them information about the warming centre operated by the City of Burnaby (details below). Two community based shelters also remain open to offer support to those without a home. (details below)

If you see anyone in Burnaby who appears to be in need of critical help, contact the Burnaby RCMP, at 604-646-9999.

City of Burnaby Warming Centre:

Bonsor Recreation Centre
6515 Bonsor Avenue, Burnaby

Other Community Based Shelters

Westminster Bible Chapel

7540 – 6th Street
Burnaby, B.C., V3N 3M1
Tel: 778-378-1700
EWR Phone number: 604-255-0340

Burnaby Southside Community:

12 mats
Church EWR Shelter
7135 Walker Ave,
Burnaby
EWR Phone number: 778-384-6486

"Now is the time we all need to pull together and look out for each other, especially for our most vulnerable." Said Corporal Mike Kalanj of the Burnaby RCMP. "If you see someone in need of critical help, please call the Burnaby RCMP."

You have questions, we have answers...

What you need to know about the City of Burnaby's Temporary Emergency Warming Centre

Questions & Answers

What is an emergency warming centre?

An emergency warming center provides safe, basic overnight accommodation to people needing protection from extreme weather such as freezing temperatures, wind chill, snow accumulation, freezing rain and extended periods of rain.

Where is it located?

The emergency warming centre is located in the Banquet Hall, upstairs at the Bonsor Recreation Complex (6550 Bonsor Avenue).

Why was this location chosen?

Bonsor Rec Complex was chosen because it is well suited to address the needs of vulnerable people in the City, with resources already in place (near transit, adequate space).

When will it be activated?

The centre would open when an extreme winter weather event is forecasted and demand is expected to exceed capacity at the existing facilities in the city. It would operate during evening and overnight hours (8:30pm to 8am) as long as extreme winter weather persists.

How many people will it accommodate?

The space is designed to accommodate around 20 people, but in the event of extreme need can accommodate more.

Is a capacity limit required by the provincial health officer?

With the cold weather we are currently experiencing, Provincial Health officials have exempted warming centres in our regions from COVID-related capacity limitations. They have deemed risk from exposure to cold weather is of primary concern at this time of year, and a greater risk to health than COVID-19 for the housing insecure.

Who will operate it?

City staff will operate the facility to ensure vulnerable people have a place to stay during extreme weather events.

How will homeless people be informed that it exists and when it will be open?

The City has produced 800 post cards to distribute to vulnerable people in our community, to be distributed through frontline staff, including RCMP, Burnaby Fire, bylaw officers and other community partners. Prominent signage will also be in place around the Bonsor Rec Centre to help direct people to the shelter.

Additionally, the City has issued a news release, social posts and updated our webpages to reflect the opening of the facility. All City staff have been informed about the opening of the warming centre to ensure they are able to pass along the information to people in need.

Why will it only be open during evening hours?

There are a number of facilities and services in Burnaby, including shopping malls, restaurants, recreation centres and libraries, that can accommodate vulnerable people during the daytime hours. The emergency warming centre is designed to ensure people have a place to stay during the night, when temperatures drop and people are most at risk, and other services are unavailable.

With the additional temporary emergency warming centre, will Burnaby have enough space to meet demand for these services?

We are opening this facility to address excess demand beyond existing shelters. We will be working with our community partners to monitor on a daily basis the usage and demand of facilities and will adapt our response as required.

What if neighbouring residents and business owners object to the facility?

The City is committed to working with the community over the long-term to address concerns from neighbouring residents and businesses. In the short term, the City’s key goal is to protect the lives of vulnerable people in Burnaby who may not have a place to stay during extreme weather events.

Will the clients need to present a BC Vaccine Card?

No.

With the cold weather we are currently experiencing Provincial Health officials have exempted warming centres in our regions from COVID related capacity limitations. The risk from exposure to cold weather is of primary concern at this time of year, and a greater risk to health than COVID-19 for the housing insecure.

How will it be funded?

The City of Burnaby will fund the operation of the emergency warming centre in the short term, and will seek reimbursement where possible from senior levels of government.

Will there be security on site?

Yes – security will be on site to help ensure the safety of all staff and patrons.

Will the centre provide for safe injection opportunities?

The emergency warming shelter will have NARCAN on site, with staff trained to administer if necessary, but the facility is not currently equipped to provide a safe injection site for patrons.

How long will this warming centre stay open?

It will open up when an extreme winter weather event is occurring and demand is expected to exceed capacity at the existing facilities in the city. It would operate only during evening hours 8:30pm to 8am. The City will continue to review the circumstances and capacity at other shelters, as well as long range forecasts to determine whether to keep the emergency warming centre open.

Will the warming centre be at this location if there are future cold snaps?

The location could change in future depending upon the level of service required and operational needs.

What services are available at the warming centre?

Visitors will be provided with light snacks, water, hot drinks, space to sleep and a mat.

What is the temperature requirement for activation?

Two factors will trigger the opening of the emergency warming centre:

We will continue to assess these factors to determine whether to keep the shelter open after it is activated.

Will drugs and alcohol be allowed?

No drugs and alcohol are permitted on the premises according to the established code of conduct at City recreation facilities.

What other shelters offer drop in services in Burnaby?

Douglas Road Shelter accepts drop-in clients, as well as Burnaby Extreme Weather Response shelters operated by the Lookout Housing and Health Society.

Released by

Cpl. Michael Kalanj

Media Relations Officer
Burnaby RCMP
burnaby.rcmp-grc.gc.ca (English only)
6355 Deer Lake Avenue, Burnaby, BC, V5G 2J2
Office: 604-646-9566
Fax: 604-646-9704

Email: burnaby_rcmp_media@rcmp-grc.gc.ca

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