British Columbia

Abbotsford temporary homeless shelter opens

A new temporary shelter in Abbotsford will provide 40 beds for vulnerable people in the city.

City, province and advocates work together to be ready in time for Christmas

When the construction of a new temporary, 40-bed winter shelter was announced in Nov. 2015, Lookout Emergency Aid Society Executive Director Shayne Williams said it will save lives in Abbotsford. (Lookout Emergency Aid Society)

A new temporary winter shelter will open on Monday in Abbotsford, which could be a step towards a better relationship between vulnerable people and the city.

The 40-bed winter shelter — partly funded by the municipality — is made up of six construction trailers joined together.

"Originally it was really difficult for us to find a site that was going to work based on the community and based on our needs as well," said Jodi Sturge with the Lookout Emergency Aid Society, which will fun the facility.

"City engineering staff in particular worked really hard and tirelessly to find a solution and the solution that they have come up with is quite innovative."

The city provided $750,000 to build the temporary shelter while BC Housing is paying  $450,000 for operating costs.

Homelessness contentious issue in Abbotsford

Homelessness has been a contentious issue for years between the city and those living on the street.

In 2013, city workers spread chicken manure on land used as a homeless camp. The mayor apologized, but advocates for those living in the camp took the city to court.

In October, 2015, B.C.Supreme Court struck down city bylaws prohibiting people from erecting temporary shelters.

When the temporary shelter was announced in late Nov. 2015, Abbotsford Mayor Henry Braun called it a great day for the community in a release.

The 40-beds will be available until April, 2016 however a planned permanent shelter for Abbotsford isn't expected to open until 2017.

with files from Stephanie Mercier


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