British Columbia

City of Vancouver closes Creekside warming centre

The city says the closure of the Creekside warming centre is because of staffing and has nothing to do with an alleged incident where a child found a syringe near the property.

City says closure is due to staffing, not an alleged incident involving a child finding a syringe

The temporary overnight warming centre at the Creekside Community Centre is being closed due to staff burnout. (GP Mendoza/CBC)

The City of Vancouver is closing an overnight warming centre at the Creekside Community Centre, but it insists it has nothing to do with an alleged incident involving a child finding a syringe.

Malcolm Bromley with the Vancouver Park Board, which is investigating the incident, said there is no evidence that the child was pricked by the needle. He said the father of the child says the child likely touched or picked it up.

"I want to make it perfectly clear that the closure of Creekside is not in reaction to that incident," he said. "Unfortunately dealing with syringes and injectables in Vancouver and public places is at times commonplace in our parks and public places."

The Creekside warming centre is closing because staff are burned out, he explained.

The city also closed warming centres at Sunset Community Centre and Kitsilano Community Centre last week after a short trial but is opening one up at the Carnegie Community Centre.

Kathleen Llewellyn-Thomas, a general manager of community services with the City of Vancouver, said there have been more than 2,000 visits now to warming centres in the city.

Community centres across the city opened in mid-December in the midst of the region's cold snap as a temporary measure to help people warm up, have a shower, grab a cup of coffee and provide a quiet place to sleep.

City of Vancouver warming centres offer a place to sleep, coffee and hot showers. (Gian-Paolo Mendoza/CBC)

Keep warming centres open all winter: lawyer

Pivot Legal Society lawyer DJ Larkin said she is sensitive to people's concerns around safety but warming centres should remain open all winter.

"The centre is providing real support for people, some of whom are our most vulnerable citizens," she said.

She acknowledged staffing is a concern — especially when the city was relying on additional volunteer support to keep the centres open.

"[But] the question isn't should we shut down the centre ... the question is how do we staff and how do we deal with litter problems or safety issues."

In addition to the new warming centre at Carnegie, the warming centres at Britannia Community Centre and the West End Community Centre remain open.

With files from The Early Edition and Farrah Merali


To listen to the interview, click on the link labelled Pivot Legal lawyer DJ Larkin says city's warming shelters should be open all winter long

Clarifications

  • An earlier version of this article suggested three warming centres closed this week. In fact, only the Creekside warming centre closed this week. Warming centres at Sunset and Kitsilano closed last week after a short trial run.
    Jan 11, 2017 8:59 AM PT

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