Cold weather tests new emergency spaces

Mission Community Services sent out an extreme weather response alert Tuesday night.

As the temperature dropped a few degrees below zero Tuesday night, Mission Community Services (MCS) sent out an alert to gather the homeless indoors.

MCS has space for 15 people to spend the night on temporary sleeping mats when the weather turns cold enough to present a risk to health and safety of those lacking permanent indoor beds.

Last night, seven people slept at MCS, according to coordinator Ed Cassia.

“We put out mats in the upstairs open room and a meal is supplied to all who require the service,” said Cassia.

The shelter on Logan Avenue is put into service when the community’s Extreme Weather Response plan sparks notification to a number of agencies, in particular when outdoor temperatures fall below freezing.

The extreme weather spaces are a provincial initiative. In Mission, MCS (Haven in the Hallow), at 32646 Logan Ave., provides the 15 temporary sleeping areas from early November until the end of March whenever Mission issues an extreme weather alert. Across B.C., 1,100 extreme weather spaces supplement the 1,800 permanent shelter beds.

“Extreme weather conditions threaten both the health and safety of those without permanent shelter,” said Maple Ridge-Mission MLA Marc Dalton in a release. “The extreme weather response program provides an effective temporary solution to help protect those who are homeless from the extreme conditions during the late fall through winter months.”