A Cranbrook church has opened its doors as a emergency warming centre for the next few days, prompted by extreme cold temperatures that are dropping as low as -30C at night.
The Cranbrook Alliance Church, located at 1200 Kootenay St N, has also opened it’s doors as an emergency shelter from 7 p.m. to 9 a.m. from Dec. 20-Dec. 23.
The warming centre was opened following dialogue between Emergency Management BC and the City of Cranbrook.
First Baptist Church had initally opened up as an emergency warming centre, but is shifting resources to support the Cranbrook Alliance Church after not receiving any guests in need of shelter on Tuesday.
The Cranbrook Alliance Church had six people stay in their overnight warming centre on Tuesday evening, according to organizers.
A call for warming centres was raised by Kootenay East MLA Tom Shypitka earlier this week.
Shypitka released a public letter on Monday (Dec. 19), calling for a warming centre in Cranbrook, noting that there has been at least one apparent death due to exposure to the elements.
“I had a conversation today with a resource worker and we are needing space for 10 to 15 individuals,” wrote Shypitka, in his letter. “These people have a really good chance of being exposed to very cold temperatures that will lead to frost bite, potentially amputation and possibly death.
“These are human beings in need of a place to keep warm just to survive. The time to act is now.”
Shypitka also highlighted the need for a warming location to last through the next month, pledging to assist with raising local awareness for local funding to maintain such a service.
The Travelodge currently serves as the community’s temporary overnight shelter, with 45 beds, along with eight nightly drop-in beds. According to a city news release issued Wednesday (Dec. 21), some of those rooms are being doubled up to allow additional people to get out of the cold.
Staff and volunteers with Community Connections Society of Southeast BC ar on site 24/7 at the Travlodge to provide services such as meals and clothing for shelter guests.
The City of Cranbrook also has the Cranbrook Public Library open until 8 p.m. on Wednesday (Dec. 21) and Thursday (Dec. 22), while the Western Financial Place concourse is open until 9 p.m. Wednesday and Thursday.