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

Twilight Drive-In reopens with concession sales approved by Fraser Health, owner says

100 cars of people will now watch films, planning to adhere to new provincial health 50-car capacity

Fraser Health takes charge of COVID response at Langley Lodge

Fraser Health is also sending in a germ-killing machine to fight the virus

Asian giant “murder hornets” found in Brookswood

Langley is the farthest east the invasive species has been found so far

WEATHER: Temperatures to reach 21 degrees in Langley Thursday

Increasing cloudiness is forecasted for the morning

Shortreed Elementary offering free ‘grab-and-go’ lunches to Aldergrove families amid pandemic

COVID-19 has sparked school support workers to ensure every Aldergrove student is nourished

B.C. retirement home creates innovative ‘meet-up’ unit for elderly to see family face-to-face

Innovative ‘purpose-built’ unit keeps residents safe when seeing family for first time since COVID-19

Facing changes together: Your community, your journalists

Thanks for helping the Aldergrove Star to continue its mission to provide trusted local news

Cloverdale youth pastor’s sexual-assault sentencing delayed

Samuel Emerson due to return to Surrey Provincial Court in August

COVID-19: B.C. too dependent on foreign food production workers

New B.C. job site links unemployed with farm, seafood work

B.C. businesses ‘can’t shoulder burden’ of COVID-19 sick pay

Trudeau’s plan should be tied to federal emergency aid

Harrison Hot Springs Resort eases in to reopening

Reservations available Friday, May 29

Police stop Lower Mainland men with parachutes from jumping off Okanagan bridge

The men had parachutes in their backpacks, and indicated they were going to jump off a bridge

Body of Maple Ridge man recovered near Harrison Lake

21-year-old last seen on May 16 when he fell into Silver Creek

PHOTOS: Loved ones reunite at an oasis on closed U.S.-Canada border in Surrey

Officials closed the park in mid-March over coronavirus concerns

Most Read