The City of Burnaby has extended operations of one of its warming centres until the end of the month.
The service extension, which was quietly announced late last week, is the second such extension since the beginning of the pandemic. The city originally announced an extension in March, along with shifting operations to city-owned arenas to allow for physical distancing.
Mayor Mike Hurley recently told the NOW the city needed to work on converting the spaces back into arena use for when they are allowed to open again. However, he wasn’t able to provide any timeline for when the arenas were expected to be opened for regular use.
While the Beresford Street warming centre closed Monday morning, as per the city’s plans that were announced in March, the South Burnaby Arena will continue to operate as a shelter from 8 p.m. to 8 a.m. According to an update on the city’s website, the shelter will remain open until June 30, leaving its patrons without a shelter to return to on Canada Day unless the shelter is extended again.
BC Housing said it was working to expand its stock of pandemic beds – so far, the provincial housing authority has secured 30 rooms at a local hotel.
According to the city’s website, the shelters offer mats for sleeping, tables, chairs, hot drinks and snacks. They also offer a place for pets to sleep overnight.
The warming centres’ original intent was to shelter vulnerable people during the winter months, when low overnight temperatures and wet weather make for more dangerous sleeping outdoors.