Operator named for Coquitlam’s cold weather shelter program

This story has been changed since it was posted. Additions are in italics.

Following an extensive search, Coquitlam’s overnight shelter program is tentatively planning to launch next year with Progressive Housing Society at the helm.

“We still have many details to sort out, but we hope to be activating the nightly winter shelter . . . in mid-January,” wrote Tri-Cities Homelessness and Housing Task Force coordinator Polly Krier.

Following Coquitlam city council’s approval of the program in November, Krier has met with multiple organizations in the hopes of finding a provider to operate the cold weather program over a three-year term.

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Original operator Hope for Freedom Society stopped running the program in 2020.

The temporary cold/wet weather shelter system would rotate between four churches throughout the city.

  • Calvary Baptist Church at 1636 Regan Avenue
  • Coquitlam Alliance Church at 2601 Spuraway Avenue
  • Eagle Ridge Bible Fellowship at 1160 Lansdowne Drive
  • St. Laurence Anglican Church at 825 St Laurence Street

The program generally begins Dec. 1 and wraps up in March with each church hosting the shelter for about one month.

Rules

Rules are taken from the city’s current framework. The operator can make adjustments based on scheduling and other concerns.

Shelter residents “will be evicted” for the possession or consumption of drugs or alcohol, or abusive behaviour, according to the Coquitlam city staff report.

Hours are between 8 p.m. and 8 a.m.

Neighbours are slated to be provided with a name and phone number to call any time of day if they have a problem with the shelter.

The antidote to fear

Discussing the program in November, Coquitlam Mayor Richard Stewart recalled a resident who found out a temporary homeless shelter had been operating in his neighbourhood for years and asked why he didn’t know.

“Because it works,” Stewart said. “There’s just no impact on neighbourhoods.”

While a certain amount of fear is understandable, Stewart suggested that fear was associated with a level of ignorance.

“The antidote to fear is information in most cases,” he said.

Noting that the evening’s forecast was for rain all night, Stewart talked about what the shelters can be besides a place to spend the night.

“There are some transformations that can come out of cold/wet weather mat program. People can be connected to the services they need or the employment they need.”

Related: Here, with no place to go: a snapshot of homelessness in the Tri-Cities

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