The Ksan House Society opened its extreme weather shelter for the local homeless population Oct. 14, the second year in a row it has done so ahead of what had been a traditional Nov. 1 opening.
As communities are hit with cold, wet weather, nearly 30 other agencies across B.C. also opened their extreme weather shelters earlier than normal this year, bolstered by grants from the provincial BC Housing Agency.
The extreme weather shelter is also called a ‘damp’ shelter because it provides beds for anybody, including those who have been drinking. It’s a different mandate from Ksan’s year-round 16-bed homeless shelter located at its Hall St. housing complex on the southside.
For now those using the damp shelter will be housed on Hall St. until renovations are completed at a Lakelse Ave. building bought earlier this year, says Ksan housing director Elaine McGillivray.
“There has been some unexpected required renovations before we can open in our new building,” she said.
“The contractors are working on it and we hope to move to our building on Lakelse soon.”
Ksan’s damp shelter has been located at various points around the city over the years, most recently by leasing space at the All Nations Centre on Sparks St. close to the downtown core and adjacent to the Evangelical Free Church and the Park Ave. medical building.
Camp-style cots were set up nightly once the centre closed for the day and basic meals were then provided to those who stayed there overnight.
But that ended in February when the Northern Health Authority declared the food preparation facilities to be inadequate.
Ksan then moved its damp shelter users to its Hall St. complex until it closed the end of March.
The society then began to search for another location and had a tentative deal in the spring to buy an empty building on Lazelle Ave. between the post office and Terrace Interiors.
But following public opposition to the location, Terrace city council refused to rezone the property to allow it to be used as a shelter.
The society was then offered the McRae building on Lakelse Ave. close to the WorkSafeBC office, and they completed a purchase deal in August.
Ksan is keeping the two-storey building’s six apartments and is renovating the ground floor to provide enough space for 20 permanent beds, a kitchen, bathrooms and a laundry area.