The Cowichan Tribes’ gymnasium at 5574 River Road is now operating as an extreme weather shelter. (Submitted photo)

The Cowichan Tribes’ gymnasium at 5574 River Road is now operating as an extreme weather shelter. (Submitted photo)

New extreme weather shelter opens on River Road in Duncan

New facility should relieve some pressure on Warmland House

A new extreme weather shelter has opened in the Cowichan Tribes’ gymnasium at 5574 River Rd. in Duncan.

Funded by BC Housing and operated by the Cowichan branch of the Canadian Mental Health Association and Cowichan Tribes, the shelter will open on Jan. 22.

The new shelter is expected to alleviate some of the pressure on Warmland House, which will continue to operate on Lewis Street.

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The new shelter will be operated and staffed by the CMHA and will be able to accommodate up to 30 people each night.

“For so many, homelessness is not a choice but working together in the spirit of caring and kindness is,” said CMHA executive director Lise Haddock.

“As the cold weather approaches, it’s wonderful to know that people will be warm, safe and secure. Thank you Cowichan Nation for opening the doors of your respected house Si’em lelum to provide much needed shelter.”

A typical stay at an emergency shelter includes a bed with linens, hot meals, showers and access to laundry and support services.

Stays may range from one night to longer, depending on client needs.

The new shelter is open to anyone that needs a warm, dry place to sleep.

It will be open from 8 p.m. until 8 a.m. each day and is expected to remain open until spring when the weather improves.

Marnie Elliott, Ts’ewulhtun Health Centre’s associate health director, said “Nuts’amaat shqwaluwun”, (One Mind, One Heart), is the basis of how the shelter will operate.

“It is an honour to share our space at the Si’em lelum Gymnasium in partnership with CMHA to provide a safe, warm environment for our community,” she said.

“I believe that it’s in collaborations like this that when we work together, we are not walking alone. I am thankful for the many minds and hearts that have come together to also walk with our community on their healing journey.”

People who stay at emergency shelters can be diverse, with a range of needs and abilities.

Staff will require appropriate behaviour at the shelter, but the facility will reduce barriers to ensure the most vulnerable people are brought inside and connected to support services.

“The CMHA-CVB looks forward to providing even more shelter opportunities for some of our community’s most vulnerable persons,” Haddock said.

“We thank Cowichan Tribes for supporting this project and we look forward to working together.”

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