The Vancouver Park Board has rejected a motion to close warming shelters at community centres across the city.
Speaking at the meeting, MLA Spencer Chandra Herbert said the board shouldn’t rush into a decision.
“I would encourage you to reach out to people at the community centres. Talk to volunteers, talk to the staff. Visit them yourself before acting in a knee-jerk way to shut down a centre in below zero weather.”
Meanwhile DJ Larkin with the Pivot Legal Society says it’s worrying to see that staff was not prepared for the shelters.
“To do so rather than providing proper staff training and staffing is deeply concerning to us and we have some concerns that it raises questions about whether or not people are being accommodated for their disability and provision of services.”
President of the West End Community Association Dave Pasin says the staff there weren’t prepared or trained for the new program.
“Our staff are not equipped in drug and alcohol abuse. They’re not equipped to deal with mental health issues. Our staff some nights, there would be one security person and one auxiliary staff. We’re not equipped to deal with these kinds of physical altercations, verbal altercations. Nobody wants to get hurt.”
The initial motion was to suspend operations of the warming centres in all community centres – which was ultimately defeated with a 3-3 tie.
The special meeting was called after a child was exposed to a hypodermic needle at a community centre earlier this week.