As published in the Revelstoke Mountaineer, the Revelstoke Current, and the Revelstoke Review.

Unusually low temperatures this winter have highlighted the need for an extreme weather shelter in Revelstoke. Temperatures in February frequently hit -18 overnight and for anyone homeless in Revelstoke, these conditions are life-threatening.

Revelstoke City’s social development coordinator Jill Zacharias has been working on the idea for a number of years. Recently B.C. Housing has come on board to fund it and the Revelstoke Women’s Shelter Society has offered to take on the contract. All that’s left to do now is find a suitable space.

“Revelstoke is growing and these facilities are part of that process,” Zacharias said. “Homelessness exists in all communities, but Revelstoke is one of the few in B.C. with absolutely no shelter options. And because of the high rents in our community, we have some people who are at risk of homelessness. One life changing event can shift people from having a roof over their head to being homeless.”

The provincial government, in partnership with approximately 65 communities, is providing the over 750 extreme weather response shelter spaces as part of its Extreme Weather Response Program. The proposed Revelstoke shelter would run from November to March and have separate male and female accommodation of about six beds each. Two staff will manage it daily from 9 p.m. to 7 a.m.

Cathy Girling delivers Revelstoke’s Community Connections Homeless Outreach Program, which works on getting people into housing. While an extreme weather shelter isn’t a solution to our housing issues, she said this was a community need.

“I think it’s worthwhile to operate it for a year and see,” Girling said. “I certainly support the idea if it prevents cold weather injuries.”

Those attending the Revelstoke extreme weather shelter will be given access to support and services they need to achieve housing stability. It will also allow the city to assess the reality of homelessness in our community.

If anyone who knows of a suitable space, please contact the women’s shelter at 250-837-4382.

“We know there is a need for this,” shelter executive director Lynn Loeppky said. “Revelstoke is based on community and caring for one another. This is another step in supporting our most vulnerable citizens.”