With the temperature dropping to -30 C in some parts of the Shuswap overnight Dec. 26/27, the well-being of people without homes continues to raise concerns.
According to Environment Canada, flurries are forecast overnight Dec. 27/28, with wind up to 15 km/h. The temperature is predicted to be near -20 C, down to -24 C with the wind chill.
Tuesday, Dec. 28 would see flurries with a high of -15 C during the day and a low of -23 C overnight.
Temperatures were forecast to rise slightly throughout the week, with New Year’s Day in Salmon Arm predicted to see a high of -10 C in the daytime, down to -14 C overnight.
One concern is where people in Salmon Arm can go during the day if they stay at the Salvation Army’s Lighthouse Shelter overnight. The shelter at 441 Third St. SW is open from 6:30 p.m. to 8:15 a.m. People receive food at night and in the morning before heading out.
Although Cedar Place in Salmon Arm, which opened in November, contains 38 studio units to house people without homes or at risk of being homeless, it is not a good fit for everyone who falls in those categories for a variety of reasons.
Lieut. Joel Torrens with the Salvation Army said in a recent interview that the number of people staying at the Lighthouse shelter rises as the temperature drops. However, because of pandemic protocols the number of beds is fewer than it was pre-pandemic.
Regarding a place for people to go to escape the cold during the daytime, he said he knows a number of individuals and agencies have been talking about it but nothing has been finalized yet. One of the issues affecting decisions is COVID-19’s Omicron variant and its fast spread.
Monica Kriese is one of the organizers of Food with Friends, a free outdoor hot lunch offered in Salmon Arm on Tuesdays and Fridays at noon to 1 p.m., with everyone welcome. It’s held in the parking lot behind the Crossroads Free Methodist Church. People who attend include seniors, people without homes and people with temporary housing.
“Our numbers are up when it comes to the lunch program. So many are having trouble making ends meet so a free hot, nutritious meal twice a week is a big help to them. But in this freezing cold, we won’t see some of those folks that need a helping hand with their food needs,” Kriese said.
She said that while local indviduals and agencies are grateful for Cedar Place which has lessened the burden for those who are vulnerable, government must do more as many more people are living precariously.
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