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Burnaby approves new overnight winter shelter in Royal Oak

The shelter on Buller Avenue will be open 4 p.m. to 8 a.m. nightly between December and April.

Burnaby council has approved a new overnight winter shelter in Royal Oak after advocates urged the city to add two “critically needed” 24-7 shelters.

Part of a city-owned warehouse at 7320 Buller Ave. will provide a winter shelter space for 40 people and will be open 16 hours per day, seven days a week between December and April, according to a staff report presented to council Nov. 6.

BC Housing will provide operating costs for the facility and contract with Progressive Housing Society to operate the shelter.

The city has provided a housing operating grant of $140,500 to Progressive Housing to allow more on-site staffing. The city will provide the warehouse space at a nominal rate.

The west portion of the warehouse is already used by the city for an extreme weather warming centre.

A map of 7320 Buller Ave. where Burnaby council has approved a new overnight winter shelter. By City of Burnaby

Staff said they studied the option to provide a 24-hour service but determined it would require extensive renovations, such as installing showers, that would delay opening the shelter.

Instead, staff recommended opening the shelter from 4 p.m. to 8 a.m. to allow the operator to provide dinner and greater access for clinical outreach teams to visit the site.

Dave Critchley, the city’s general manager of community safety, said portable showers were considered but weren’t feasible for this year.

“Should the facility be full with 40 clients, to have these (showers) located outside the building adds an additional challenge to try and monitor and supervise that, as well as the maintenance of those showers,” he told council.

Critchley said staff would “absolutely” look into preparing the facility for showers so the shelter could operate 24-7 next year.

The report noted the following services will be available this winter:

Douglas Shelter – open year round

  • 40-bed capacity
  • Location: 2294 Douglas Rd.
  • Status: Full with five to seven people turned away per night
  • City pays the lease of the privately owned site and building; BC Housing funds the operation of the shelter and Progressive Housing operates the centre
  • Open 24 hours a day, seven days a week

Community-operated Extreme Weather Response (EWR)

  • 20-bed capacity from the 1st to 15th of the month at Neighbourhood Church (7135 Walker Ave.)
  • 27-bed capacity from the 16th to the end of the month at Westminster Bible Chapel (7540 Sixth St.)
  • The Task Force to End Homelessness in Burnaby coordinates the EWR, BC Housing funds the program and Lookout Housing and Health Society operates the response with other community organizations and volunteers
  • Activated when conditions are deemed severe enough to present substantial threat to the life and/or health of homeless persons
  • Shelter operates from 7 p.m. to 9 a.m. from Nov. 1, 2023 to April 15, 2024

City-operated Extreme Weather Warming Centre

  • 20-bed capacity
  • Location: 7320 Buller Ave. (front office portion on the west side of the warehouse)
  • The city activates a warming centre on a nightly basis for the duration of an extreme weather event
  • Activated under certain conditions including when the temperature is -4 C or lower according to Environment Canada, or when Environment Canada forecasts a temperature of -4 C or lower for the next 24-hour period