Grand Forks has no extreme weather shelter and winter is upon us.
People are worried that the homeless will likely face life threatening conditions because of this situation.
On Nov 20, 2019 a rally was held in Gyro Park to call attention to this and plea for the currently empty facility that had been the Women’s Transition House to be allowed to be used for this purpose this winter.
The facility being considered here is on the grounds attached to the Boundary Hospital. At one point it was a nurses’ residence I believe. I’m also given to understand that currently it is not being used.
The Committee that has been meeting on this topic since the beginning of the summer (coincidentally around the time that the city forced the shut down of the Warming Centre) has zeroed in on this location as the next-to-best possible place for the shelter. The most popular choice around that table in mid august was the previous location, the former Greyhound Bus Depot, but the city’s actions on enforcing the zoning bylaw took that off the table.
I have to tell you that the opinion around the table was not unanimous – the representatives of the special interest Facebook group Citizens for a Better Grand Forks were not really interested in that option since they had successfully pushed council to shut that down.
This topic, using the for former Transition House, was brought to council’s attention during the Councillor Report of Councillor Thompson at the last meeting of council. The video below should start playing at the beginning of her report.
I would like to point out that the property in question is owned by Interior Health.
Interior Health is Not in the business of Housing – that is BC Housing’s area of responsibility.
BC Housing supported the previous Warming Centre and may provide support for an Extreme Weather Shelter once again if one is set up. I don’t know that for sure but that’s my guess.
Even though Interior Health does not provide housing their area of responsibility is the Health of the citizens in its catchment area. The health effects of exposure to the elements overnight during the winter can range from colds and pneumonia to frostbite and limb loss all the way to death.
I understand that it’s likely not a simple process in a bureaucracy as large as IH to make a quick decision like allowing the use of the facility for this purpose. I’m sure there are all kinds of little friction causing issues to slow the whole thing down. And that most of those are there to protect the organization (and by extension the taxpayers) from malpractice, inefficiency, corruption and duplication of services. But other than malpractice the rest are not concerned with health directly are they?
So I have to ask which of the dual roles of IH, Health and Bureaucratic Government Organization is the more important one?