Cranbrook, BC (November 21, 2023) – As the frequency of extreme weather events increases, and the number of persons living unhoused remains high, the need for developing, monitoring, and implementing a plan to keep Cranbrook citizens safe during extreme weather heightens.
Being homeless at any time can be challenging, but living unhoused during the winter can take a huge physical and emotional toll and drastically increases the risk of weather-related injuries and death. Prolonged periods outside, lack of seasonally appropriate clothing, food instability, inability to stay clean and dry, and minimal access to health care all contribute to poor health for those people using tents for shelter.
Cold weather during winter months is a routine occurrence in Cranbrook, and most citizens are equipped to cope without experiencing significant negative outcomes. However, staying warm, dry, and healthy for those living unhoused is a real challenge. Many agencies in Cranbrook work hard to reduce those challenges through regular operations of outreach services and providing ongoing resources and support. Still, systems and organizations can become strained during an extreme weather event.
BC Housing provides funding for a variety of shelter options. One option offers an opportunity for communities to open temporary winter shelter. While it would be ideal for Cranbrook to have a temporary winter shelter open 24/7 during the winter months, an appropriate site has not been identified. Staff shortages make running a winter shelter a challenge. However, this will continue to be the goal until all Cranbrook citizens are adequately housed.
Another option is an Extreme Weather Response (EWR) shelter. A weather alert activates EWR shelters, providing overnight, life-saving spaces and resources for unhoused people. During the day, the shelter is closed, and anyone must find other designated warming spaces until the shelter opens again.
BC Housing has approved funding for an Extreme Weather Shelter in Cranbrook that will be operational November 6, 2023 - April 15, 2023.
The City of Cranbrook would like to thank Christ Church Anglican for offering space within their church for this much-needed shelter and ANKORS East for stepping up to operate the shelter.
Extreme weather shelters save lives and help to ensure that businesses, emergency responders, and citizens are not left scrambling to try and manage the problems associated with people trying to survive in the cold.