Vancouver opens 5 warming centres as frigid temperatures continue

Haider Nayani / February 4, 2019

Britannia will be a warming centre for the homeless until the cold dies down. (City of Vancouver)

As icy conditions and cold gusts of wind continue to plague Vancouver, concerns about the safety of the homeless population rise. Without proper shelter or winter wear, many are ill-equipped to withstand the freezing temperatures. To combat this, the city of Vancouver has opened 5 warming centres.

Britannia Community Centre, West End Community Centre, Powell Street Getaway, Vancouver Public Library and the Overdose Prevention Society are all open to members of the homeless population.

“We generally assess and work with city of Vancouver homelessness services and determine when we need to open a warming centre.” – Jeremy Shier, Britannia Community Centre Manager of Administrative Services

Shier says that warming centres are opened when temperatures go below 0, though if it is raining, the threshold to open can be warmer. The shelters, Shier elaborates, are there to provide only the necessities.

“Just the basics…a clean warm place to sleep and we do provide some minimal food and drink as necessary. No beds or anything, we provide the basic needs to get out of the cold weather and into a warm environment.” – Jeremy Shier, Britannia Community Centre Manager of Administrative Services

2018’s homeless count found a slight increase in the total number of homeless people in the city, at 2,181. This was a record-breaking number, the highest since the count began in 2005. 659 of these people were unsheltered, a particularly daunting situation to be in during this cold snap.

Vancouver’s homeless count since 2015. (City of Vancouver)