With temperature beginning to rise, the Vancouver Park Board has closed emergency warming centres in the city.
But this means homeless people are having to look elsewhere for shelter.
Chair Michael Wiebe says warming centres have been closed now for a couple of weeks, but says the board is directing people to homeless shelters.
“We actually had people there, that if people showed up, they would be taken to another shelter and so we did that kind of, we tried to make the transition as smooth as possible.”
However, Jeremy Hunka with the Union Gospel Mission says shelters have been so full, that they’ve had to turn people away.
“There are about five individuals who showed up and had to be turned away, the night before that, five more people. So we have seen recently through March, people coming to us in an increasing number and that’s concerning.”
Hunka says March 1 was the last night when there was an open space at their shelter.
He says to get people off the streets in the province, there needs to be more affordable housing, more options for addiction services and support for mental health.
However as those doors close, the Vancouver Park Board is set to review its extreme weather strategies.
Wiebe says staff will also be looking into ‘cooling centres’.
“So if we get extreme heat this summer, sometimes you have to need a place for people to get out of the sun and refreshments.”
“Staff is looking at ideas on how it would work, so if we have crazy extreme heat, people that are sleeping outside can get really affected, so we’re gonna have, we’re gonna look at solutions to work at those times as well.”
Jeremy Hunka says it’s an excellent idea.
“Are we concerned that as we move throughout Spring we’re gonna see more people on the street? Are we concerned that people are going to be showing up at our doors in an increased number? We are, we want to be able to ensure that people have a safe place to go.”
“People need a place to go where they’re not outside in the heat where the possibilities of being dehydrated are present. I mean we have seen, in Vancouver, people die.”
Wiebe says he’s hoping to see the report next month.