British Columbia

Downtown Vancouver shelter runs out of space, forced to turn away at least 25 seeking warmth

Temperatures dipped below –4 C before the wind chill in downtown Vancouver Sunday night.

Union Gospel Mission says it has space for a maximum of 92 people

The Union Gospel Mission offers 72 permanent shelter beds. (Mike Zimmer / CBC)

Staff at the Union Gospel Mission in Vancouver's Downtown Eastside say the facility had to turn away at least 25 people on Sunday night after it hit capacity. 

"Twenty-five turnaways in one night is an extreme number. The need is extreme right now," said the UGM's Jeremy Hunka.

"It's really concerning because this cold weather, we've seen it be deadly in the past, and we want to avoid a tragedy."

The shelter has 72 permanent spaces and can add 20 mats on the floor for a total capacity of 92.

Forecasters expect another cold night in Lower Mainland on Monday with a low of –4 C that could feel like –10 C with the wind chill. 

Three Vancouver community centres open tonight and will remain open until Feb. 20. They include:

  • Britannia Community Centre at 1739 Venables St. 
  • Carnegie Community Centre at 401 Main St.
  • West End Community Centre at 870 Denman St. 

Warming centres open as a life-saving response when temperatures drop below  –5 C.

Person wrapped in blankets, sleeping on cardboard near Robson street in downtown Vancouver. (David Horemans/CBC)