BC Housing in collaboration with Turning Points Collaborative Society announced, May 12, 2020, Vernon’s emergency shelter — housed in the curling club — is the first in the province to introduce sleeping pods to better protect those experiencing homelessness against COVID-19. (Turning Points)

COVID-19: Vernon emergency shelter first in province to add sleeping pods

Turning Points and BC Housing partnered to introduce extra safety measure amid pandemic

Sleeping pods have been added to the amalgamated shelter in the Vernon Curling Club to help ensure social distancing amid the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

Two Vernon homeless shelters, Our Place and Gateway Shelter, were combined in the curling club in early April to provide more space and resources for those experiencing homelessness during these unprecedented times.

Vernon was the first city in British Columbia to amalgamate its emergency shelters to better protect those experiencing homelessness from COVID-19.

Turning Points Collaborative Society, BC Housing, Interior Health and the City of Vernon amalgamated the two sites in the larger facility, which allows for greater physical distancing for clients and staff.

The curling club houses 70 beds, each sectioned off into a 10-by-10 area to maximize distancing, additional sanitization and portable hand-washing stations and additional PPE, including masks and scrubs, for staff.

Now, Vernon is the first community in the province to add the extra safety measure: the sleeping pods.

“Our goal throughout this pandemic has always been to protect the health and safety of our clients, staff and the community at large,” Turning Points’ executive director Randene Wejr said.

“The sleeping pods are just another in many health and safety measure we have put in place over the past several weeks.”

The pods were made possible through a partnership with BC Housing, which funds the shelter, and Turning Points, the shelter’s operator.

The sleeping pods will soon be introduced into other emergency shelters across B.C.

“All of these ‘best practices’ we have introduced have resulted due to strong partnerships with regional and local governments and organizations,” Wejr said.

“We are incredibly proud of these partnerships, not only are they proving to be beneficial for our clients and staff, but they are making communities safer and healthier for everyone right across British Columbia.”

READ MORE: COVID-19: Vernon homeless shelters combine in curling club

READ MORE: Chamber not pleased with overdose prevention site in downtown Vernon

Elsewhere in B.C., the provincial government has made agreements with a number of hotels in Victoria and Vancouver to serve as temporary supportive housing for 600 people living across three tent cities, many of whom are vulnerable to the novel coronavirus.

“While a fear of COVID-19 sweeps through our communities, we must also remember there are those who are facing this pandemic without shelter and without the support which many of us take for granted,” Public Safety Minister Mike Farnworth said in a news conference in Vancouver Saturday, April 25.

“These are people with no place to isolate, no place to rest or relief from this growing global threat.”

An estimated 360 people are currently living at Victoria encampments on Pandora Avenue and in Topaz Park, according to BC Housing data.

Roughly 300 people continue to live at Oppenheimer Park, located on Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside.

Since coming into power in 2017, the Horgan government has secured 2,749 spaces across the province.

But in March, as B.C.’s top doctor declared the COVID-19 pandemic a provincial health emergency, many were reminded that this marks the second health crisis in the province – the first being the ongoing opioid crisis, which was deemed a provincial health emergency by Dr. Bonnie Henry’s predecessor, Dr. Perry Kendall.

“Now, more than ever, with the concurrent emergencies of the pandemic and the ongoing opioid crisis, it is time to implement long-term housing solutions that take care of and protect our most vulnerable people,” said Poverty Reduction Minister Shane Simpson.

In early April, community coordinators in Smithers put together a BC Housing project that saw 8- 10 people relocated from the town core to a temporary camp on the outskirts of town. The camp is a collection of six tents (five residential and one for cooking) surrounding a central area with picnic tables and fire pit.

Smithers Deputy Mayor Gladys Atrill said the project — which came together in just over a week — is a step forward for Smithers, and could be a model for other communities working on the issue of homelessness.

“I think this is a responsible move, it provides protection for a vulnerable group of people and creates some protection for them and other citizens in view of viral infection,” she said. “I am pretty proud of what people have done; I think it’s a really nice community story.”


@caitleerach
Caitlin.clow@vernonmorningstar.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Coronavirus

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

PHOTOS: Momma black bear and cubs spotted in Townsite

A momma black bear and her two cubs, spotted getting near The… Continue reading

Pay guarantee removed for some Kootenay on-call paramedics

Guarantee phased out as BCEHS introduces a new “scheduled on call” model

Home sales down, price correction coming: Realtor

There has been a 10 per cent drop in single family dwelling… Continue reading

No active confirmed COVID-19 cases in Interior Health: BCCDC

Numbers from the BCCDC’s dashboard show 193 of the 195 COVID-19 cases in the region have recovered

Nature Conservancy takes in more lands near Canal Flats

Badgers, bears and birds to benefit from bolstering bunchgrass conservation in Rocky Mountain Trench

March dental conference key to many of B.C.’s COVID-19 cases

Early infections from China, Iran were quickly contained

Regional District of Kootenay Boundary rescinds all Grand Forks-area evacuation orders

Evacuation alerts for 1,136 Boundary properties remain in effect as officials monitor forecasts

MAP: Dr. Henry reveals which B.C. regions have seen most COVID-19 cases

B.C. health officials release a first look at how the novel coronavirus has reached all corners of the province

Tla-o-qui-aht First Nation woman, 26, fatally shot by police in Edmundston, N.B.

Police were conducting a well-being check at the time of the incident

Seniors to receive up to $500 in promised COVID-19 emergency aid in early July

The Liberal government first promised the extra help in mid-May, but had to create a new system to deliver the aid

Introducing the West Coast Traveller: A voyage of the mind

Top armchair travel content for Alaska, Yukon, BC, Alberta, Washington, Oregon and California!

VIDEO: Revelstoke bear wanders into Animal House pet store

Staff got ready to chase it out with a broom

Nelson counsellor works online with university students in central Asia during pandemic

Robin Higgins is home from her job in Tajikistan because of COVID-19

New study is first full list of species that only exist in Canada

Almost 40 per cent of them are critically imperilled or imperilled and eight are already extinct

Most Read