Vernon's Turning Points Collaborative Society is taking steps to keep homeless warm during cold snap

Too cold to live outside

It's never easy living rough, but add extreme cold temperatures and surviving is even harder. And potentially life threatening.

With temperatures dipping to as low as -26 C in the North Okanagan, measures are being taken to help the area's street-entrenched community.

Randene Wejr, with Turning Points Collaborative Society, said a new program this year is making a big difference.

“We have a warming bus,” said Wejr of the Vernon program that started just before Christmas. “They go around at night and make sure there is nobody on the streets.”

The bus provided by A1 Busing, allows people to spend as much time as they want in the comfort of the heated vehicle.

“If there are any beds they will take them to the shelter or they can stay on the bus for the whole night,” said Wejr, adding there are some people who prefer not to go to the shelter.

“There's food and warm drinks and mittens and blankets and all that kind of stuff on the bus.”

The bus program also operated last year, but this year funding was provided by BC Housing.

Wejr said the shelters are busy during the cold snap and extra mats have been added to accommodate those seeking refuge from the cold.

The motel room program has also increased capacity and Wejr said between the shelter and motel program close to 200 warm beds are available.

The 2021 homeless count found 244 people living without stable housing in Vernon.

A homeless count in 2019 found 161 people living rough in Vernon. The count was not done in 2020 due to COVID concerns.

Wejr said Turning Points is in need of cold-weather items such as blankets, winter jackets, mittens, sweaters and blankets.

“We opened so many more beds we had to scrounge for blankets and linens and that type of thing,” said Wejr.

Donations can be dropped off at the shelter in the blue building on 37th Street near 25th Avenue or at the Turning Points office, 102-3301 24 Ave.

More Vernon News