VICTORIA, B.C. - As British Columbia experiences its first snow falls across the province and thousands face power outages from strong winds and heavy rain, the pressing need for permanent warming shelters and year-round support for marginalized British Columbias is evident. The BC Green Caucus is calling on the BC NDP to provide funding for year-round shelter support.
In what’s become an all-too-familiar trend, extreme weather shelters continue to scramble at the last minute, often delaying their openings until specific temperature thresholds are met. This ad-hoc approach not only disrupts the lives of those seeking shelter but also presents significant challenges to providing consistent and accessible support.
“We can't let friends and neighbours freeze on the streets. Municipalities and local governments need the leadership and financial investments from the province to ensure the safety of people in their communities year-round,” said Sonia Furstenau, Leader of the B.C. Greens and MLA for Cowichan Valley.
“This government has been passive as this crisis has deepened. We see every community desperately trying to meet the needs of more and more people who are falling through the cracks. It's time for the province to step up and put in place the secure funding that will protect people all year.”
The Nanaimo Systems Planning Organization (SPO) estimates the cost of a warming centre to be around $265,000 per year, for the 161 municipalities across B.C. to have one fully funded warming centre, the annual cost for this initiative could range around $43 million.
“It’s unacceptable for BC Housing to neglect its mandate and responsibility to ensure people have housing, and at the very least, shelter. We are likely spending much more than this on healthcare costs and emergency response because people aren't getting access to life saving protections in extreme weather,” Furstenau continued.
Warming centres operating year-round can be essential locations for connecting people with services that they need. Committing to funding for year-round warming shelters would ensure the safety, dignity, and well-being of all residents, regardless of their social circumstance, or the weather forecast.
B.C. Green Caucus
+1 250-882-6187 | [email protected]