British Columbia

Blankets, socks sought for homeless in cold snap

The City of Vancouver is asking for donations of blankets, hats and socks to help the homeless in dealing with record cold temperatures expected overnight Thursday.

Donations can be dropped off at City Hall or any Vancouver fire station

The City of Vancouver pleads for donations of clothing to help the homeless deal with the cold snap, the CBC's Lisa Johnson reports 2:05

The City of Vancouver is asking for help for the homeless in dealing with record cold temperatures expected overnight Thursday.

The city is looking for people to donate blankets, hats and socks for those who will spend the night sleeping on the streets.

Outreach workers will be roaming Vancouver trying to make sure everyone stays warm, said City Councilor Kerry Jang.

"The city HEAT shelters are at capacity," said Jang. "We do have other shelters opening around the city for the temporary cold snap and those are starting to fill up. There is still a street population that either doesn't want to go inside or has no access to shelter for whatever reason and these are the folks that our homeless outreach people will actually be trying to bring them some warm clothing."

Donations can be dropped off at the lobby of City Hall and at any fire station.

A unseasonable cold blast of Arctic air had much of its grip, with freezing temperatures and high winds combining to create bone-chilling conditions.

Up to 10 centimetres of snow are forecast for some areas of the southeast coast of Vancouver Island on Thursday, adding up to 30 centimetres of snow already on the ground in many areas from Wednesday.

North-easterly winds gusting up to 90 km/h were also blasting many areas of the West Coast, including Howe Sound, the Southern Gulf Islands, parts of Greater Victoria, the Fraser Valley, and along the North and Central Coast areas.

Those winds are expected to create wind chill values of minus 17 C on the South Coast to minus 39 C in some northern areas of the province.

In Victoria, which got a heavy dump of snow on Wednesday, crews managed to clear most main streets overnight, but side streets are reported to be very icy and drivers are advised to be extremely cautious.

Schools in District 69 Qualicum are closed for the day, including Oceanside Montessori in Qualicum beach.

But schools in Nanaimo, Victoria and Saanich are reported to be open. The only exception are the Third Wave school buses for special needs students in Victoria, which will not be running on Thursday morning

Valley homeless getting help

Deb Lowell, the public relations director for the Salvation Army in Abbotsford says the shelter in her area can fit up to 40 people and local churches will take in excess people looking for a warm place to stay.

"We have had folks die out in the elements in Abbotsford in recent years so we want to remove any and all barriers that would cause people to not come in to shelter," said Lowell. 

"We provide a place for their belongings to be securely stored while they are here. They're served a hot meal while they're here," she said.

Further east in Chilliwack, Ian Pratt, the Salvation Army's director of community ministries says these days even families need shelter from the cold.

"We recently had a father and son stay with us. There are a lot of working poor and people who are just making their bills these days. The working poor is a growing concern for us."