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Kamloops  

The Loop in North Kamloops opens to shelter vulnerable during Thursday snowfall

Shelter opened at The Loop

UPDATE: 10:08 a.m.

More than two dozen people spent Thursday night at a temporary unofficial shelter set up by The Loop on Tranquille Road.

Glenn Hilke told Castanet Kamloops 25 people spent the night at The Loop, ranging in age from 19 to 79.

“We transported people in wheelchairs hospital chairs and with carts, bicycles and suitcases,” he said, noting official shelter operators in the city were reaching out to The Loop to take overflow clients.

Hilke said The Loop welcomed some special guests throughout the night, as well, including new Kamloops Mayor Reid Hamer-Jackson.

“In the course of the night the RCMP visited to thank us and the mayor made a surprise visit at 2:30 a.m. to wish us well,” he said.

Hilke said volunteers sprung into action to make sure no one was sleeping outside as the first winter storm of the season hit Kamloops on Thursday.

“People cannot be expected to sleep outdoors in sub-zero conditions,” he said.

“It’s harmful, hurtful and cruel and can lead to [and] exacerbate pre-existing health conditions that can lead to hospitalization and even death.”


ORIGINAL STORY: 4 a.m.

The Loop on the North Shore opened Thursday night to shelter people without a place to stay as Kamloops experienced its first snowfall of the season.

Speaking to Castanet Kamloops at about 9 p.m. on Thursday, The Loop’s Glenn Hilke said the space was full.

“We have 20 people in the building," he said.

"So we’re doing this tonight, and we’re just taking it one day at a time and seeing what we’re able to continue to do to help people."

Two temporary winter shelters at the Yacht Club and the Stuart Wood schoolhouse gymnasium were planned to open their doors on Nov. 1.

However, the Canadian Mental Health Association’s Kamloops Branch, which has operated winter shelters in past years, announced last week it wouldn’t be running the facilities.

CMHA Kamloops’ executive director said the organization arrived at the decision due to staffing issues and a lack of permanent housing solutions and other supports available for vulnerable people.

Meanwhile, Out of the Cold — who was planning to partner with CMHA Kamloops to operate the Stuart Wood shelter — said it has secured funding and staff to operate three days per week, but another operator is needed to run the space 24/7.

As the snow fell on Thursday evening, Hilke said his team had been picking up people who weren't able to get into the Mustard Seed or Emerald Centre, and said the Merit Place shelter in Sahali was also full.

“We're going to make one more call to them at 9:45, 10 p.m. — when it’s curfew time for people who already have a space," he said.

"If they don't show up, their space is supposed to be then made available. If we have other people that we cannot take in right now, then we'll bring them to those shelters if there is space. But the chances of that are pretty unlikely."

When asked if The Loop was planning on opening as a shelter over future nights, Hilke said the main challenge is securing funding.

“We're doing this without any money whatsoever. All the people that are working tonight and overnight are volunteers, and it’s a lot to ask of a person to not sleep in their own home,” Hilke said.

“How many nights can you do that in a row? Or how many nights can you do that emotionally? Right now we’re looking in the private sector to see if we can come up with some quick funds that would then enable us to pay some people and keep this going.”

Hilke said he is hoping to receive more information from the province or the City of Kamloops about the status of finding an operator for the other two winter shelters. He said that would give him a sense of the gap that needs to be filled this season.

“The gap is real — and it’s not just based on weather conditions, obviously," he said.

"There are people that want to get into shelter with any weather, but there's not enough spaces."

BC Housing told Castanet Kamloops that it would not have any new updates this week regarding the shelter situation.

Hilke spoke up during the inaugural council meeting on Tuesday evening, urging the newly sworn-in mayor and council to prioritize addressing the gap in winter shelters.

He said he believes the city needs different shelter models for people with different challenges, and said he wants to see smaller shelters distributed evenly throughout Kamloops.

As for addressing current needs, Hilke said anyone who wishes to help The Loop in its efforts to provide winter shelter can make an eTransfer to [email protected].

He said The Loop is also in need of foam mattresses, sheets, pillows, pillowcases and blankets.



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