Whispers of Hope feels they’re in a state of suspense after the Warming Centre recently ceased operations.
That from Centre Coordinator Melissa Shulga:
“There’s been the new Social Services Advisory Group, which has been really supportive but also very logical, and to the point, and trying to address all the concerns and bring all heads to the table. So we’re very appreciative to have that group acting and doing what they can to address the concerns of the community.”
She adds the group is helping give the matter the attention it needs, but it’s still hard to know what the road ahead will look like. This as a motion was put forward at the most-recent meeting requesting that the City rescind their notice of eviction to the land owner. Shulga also says that they still require bylaws to be changed, as well as an appropriate location, and the acceptance of the community.
She says there could be more loitering downtown, or people needing to use public bathrooms in the mean time, but it comes with the territory:
“We saw the positive impacts of having this facility open for more than just the Winter season, we saw the positive impacts downtown, and on the river banks, and in the parks. Now are we going to get a taste of what it was like before? Where things were a bit more unsightly, behaviors are a little bit more out of control….”
She adds that a point-in-time count could help re-enforce data to pinpoint how many are without a home in the community. She says that Whispers has been looking for properties since their Riverside Drive departure, but only time can tell how opening, operating, and locating a winter shelter could work. She adds that although things could get worse before they get better, overall she’s forever-hopeful that the community can find some humanitarian approaches, and pull-through.
Shulga says that in the mean-time, the Community Kitchen is progressing, but unfortunately it couldn’t open in time for Summer:
“….Still some renovations to do, we are pretty tight in our budget so we’re trying to do the best with what we have but we’re not cutting any corners either. So we want the place to be highly sanitary, and make sure that they’re meeting above and beyond Interior Health’s needs, and that we’re also taking into consideration the neighbourhood’s needs….”
She says they’re also taking into consideration how traffic will affect residents, and how they can avoid added stress on the community.