British Columbia

Vancouver preparing additional cold-weather shelter beds

Vancouver's homeless population will have shelter from the cold this winter, thanks to more beds being provided by the city.

City of Vancouver to provide 300 emergency shelter beds during the winter

More than 300 beds will be provided by the City of Vancouver and B.C. Housing during the winter months. (Megan Batchelor/CBC News)

Vancouver's homeless population will have more shelter from the cold this winter, thanks to additional beds being provided by the city and B.C. Housing.

The winter of 2016/17 saw the longest cold snap in 30 years, and the city provided 234 temporary shelter beds. This winter, that number has been increased to 301.

"They're an important part of our winter response program," said Shayne Ramsay, the CEO for B.C. Housing. "Not only will the shelter provide a warm and safe place to stay, it will also provide meals, access to supports."

Reducing barriers

Pets will be allowed in the shelters and there will be a secure place for belongings. Three meals a day will also be provided, as well as laundry facilities. Rain City is running two of the 10 emergency shelters.

"We have a bed reservation system," explained Catharine Hume from Rain City. "That means people don't have to line up to come in to the shelter. It means people have access to shelter space as long as they need it."

A homeless camper during a 2017 snowfall in Vancouver. (David Horemans/CBC )

Temporary solution

The last Metro Vancouver homeless census found more than 3,000 people in the region are considered homeless. 

Vancouver Mayor, Gregor Robertson acknowledges the temporary emergency shelters aren't a permanent solution. 

"We have the 600 modular housing units, the temporary modular housing that we'll be opening in the next few months," He said.

"We see the goal this winter to make sure we have space inside for everyone who is homeless and outside. That's our top goal and, really, to make sure we're shifting people from the shelters into temporary modular housing and permanent housing as soon as possible."

The cold weather shelters open Nov.1, a month earlier than previous years.