COMOX VALLEY, B.C. – With overnight temperatures expected to dip to minus-seven, Salvation Army Comox Valley members are urging the community’s homeless to leave their tents and find warmth inside at their shelter on Pidcock Avenue.

Yesterday was the first of a string of days when Northern Vancouver Island residents get a taste of the frigid temperatures that has gripped much of Canada – and in the overnight hours Tuesday, it’s expected to feel like minus-14 with the wind chill.

The Valley Extreme Weather Response Team activated the Extreme Weather Protocol (EWP) starting on Nov. 15.

At the Salvation Army Pidcock Emergency Centre at 632 Pidcock Ave., 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.

Salvation Army Comox Valley captain, pastor Kevin Elsasser, reported that the shelter’s dorms were full last night, adding that seven people slept on emergency mats.

Elassor hopes more of the community’s will use the shelter tonight.

“As I drove by the dike road, I really feel bad for the people that are living outside, and we’re trying to get the word out that there is room in our Pidcock shelter and people can come in,” Elasser said.

The homeless camp at the Kus-kus-sum off of Comox Road.
Photo by Troy Landreville/98.9 The Goat/Vista Radio

The Salvation Army is part of the Comox Valley Coalition to End Homelessness and as such, is in partnership with Dawn to Dawn and the Comox Valley Transition Society to refer the homeless to the shelter.

Elasser said the local Salvation Army is very excited by the fact that BC Housing has increased the capacity of its shelter.

“So we have 18 transition dorm beds, we have six other transition rooms where people can stay for an extended period of time, and the cold weather policy allows up to 20 (emergency mats),” he added.

During the daytime hours, the homeless are encouraged to come to the Salvation Army’s Sunshine Lunch Club, Elasser noted.

“There is food from 11:30 (a.m.) to 12:30 (p.m.) five days a week in order to meet the needs for them,” he said.