British Columbia

Grand Forks, B.C., considers year-round homeless shelter

Grand Forks city council has offered support to a preliminary plan for a year-round, permanent homeless shelter — a first for B.C.'s Boundary region.

'It's a growing problem and it doesn't seem to be ceasing,' says mayor

Grand Forks currently has a seasonal shelter for people in need, but no year-round facility. (Getty Images/iStockphoto)

The City of Grand Forks is the latest B.C. community to consider a permanent year-round homeless shelter as social service workers raise concern about a growing need.

This month, city council pledged support for the initiative from the Boundary Emergency and Transition Housing Society (BETHS), clearing the first hurdle towards a year-round facility.

If built, it would be the only such shelter in the Boundary region.

"Our need is like every other community's need," said Steven McGibbon with BETHS.

"We have people who are homeless or at risk of being homeless and we need to start addressing the problem."

The organization envisions a hub-like permanent shelter that would house and feed people in need and direct them to local services.

'It's a growing problem'

Currently, Grand Forks has a soup kitchen and a seasonal shelter open from Nov. 1 to Mar. 31.

In August, the city ordered the non-profit that runs the soup kitchen and shelter to cease operations, in a decision it later reversed following public outcry.

Mayor Frank Konrad said the city did not do an about-face, but instead described the soup kitchen decision and the current proposal as "completely two different issues."

McGibbon said he was pleased his organization gained the city's support.

"I think through education and maybe some more experience, they've seen ... we're going to have to tackle this problem in a different manner," he said.

Konrad said the proposal is in its early stages and must still go through a public hearing and get funding through B.C. Housing.

"Every municipality in B.C. and across the country seems to be sharing the same problems with the homeless situation," he said.

"It's a growing problem and it doesn't seem to be ceasing."

With files from CBC's Daybreak South and Bob Keating.


Jaimie Kehler is a web writer, producer and broadcaster based in Kelowna, B.C. She has also worked for CBC News in Toronto and Ottawa. To contact her with a story, email