As winter starts to grip much of B.C., the province says it’s taking steps to help the homeless find shelter.

More emergency shelter spaces are being opened, through temporary and extreme weather response shelter programs.

The province says it will open 1,355 temporary shelter spaces and over 820 extreme weather response shelter spaces this season. 

These emergency shelters supplement the more than 2,000 permanent, year-round emergency shelter spaces. 

The government says that “it will continue to work with municipalities and communities to increase temporary and extreme weather spaces this winter.”

Temporary shelters will be open every night for the season. Many will be open 24/7 and offer meals. 

Some temporary shelters have already opened, with more to come later this season.

Extreme weather response shelters open tomorrow across the province and will stay open until March 31, 2020. 

Individual communities establish a plan of the weather conditions that warrant an extreme weather alert and determine the number of spaces to activate on a given night, depending on the capacity of existing shelters and the estimated need.

There are temporary and emergency shelters across Vancouver Island and the Sunshine Coast.

Powell River has 20 spaces available at 4752 Joyce Ave.

In the central and north island, the Comox Valley has an emergency shelter at 632 Pidcock Ave. – 20 spaces. 

Campbell River’s emergency shelter has six spaces at 690 Evergreen Rd.

Port Hardy has 10 emergency spaces at 7050 Rupert St. 

“During the colder months, it’s important that people experiencing homelessness in our province know that there is a place they can go to get warm and find support and services that can help them stabilize their lives,” said Selina Robinson, Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing. 

“As we continue the work of building permanent housing, we’re proud to work in partnership with communities and non-profit housing providers to provide these shelter spaces.”

These emergency shelter programs work with communities and non-profits throughout B.C. to provide temporary but immediate places to stay for anyone who is experiencing or at risk of homelessness.

A report from BC Housing shows that more than 7,655 people were identified as experiencing homelessness in 2018.