COURTENAY, B.C. – Various non-profit agencies around Courtenay want the local homeless population out of tents and inside the Salvation Army’s warm shelter.

That’s the motivation behind the Comox Valley Extreme Weather Response Team activating the Extreme Weather Protocol (EWP).

Thursday, Nov. 15 marked the first night for the EWP, and four people slept on mats laid out at the shelter at 632 Pidcock Ave.

The Extreme Weather Shelter is open again tonight starting at 7:30 p.m.

Salvation Army community ministries director Brent Hobden spoke about why the EWP was issued.

“The City of Courtenay invited several different non-profit organizations into a meeting a couple of days ago,” Hobden told the newsroom. “We recognized that there are a number of residents sleeping in tents in and around the community. BC Housing was invited to that meeting as well.”

One of the tents on the site is pictured on April 4, 2018. Photo by James Wood/98.9 The Goat/Vista Radio

During the meeting, it was determined that a possible solution was to open up the Extreme Weather Response beds, funded through the province, at the Salvation Army Pidcock Emergency Centre.

There are 18 beds in place – 12 for men and six for women – and when the EWP is issued, another 20 beds are added.

The EWP will be in place until March 31.

Hobden said they’re not truly beds but mats set out in the common area lounges.

“But they’re very safe, they’re very dry and it gives the people an opportunity to have a couple warm meals, showers and, of course, the safety of being indoors,” Hobden said.