Emergency winter housing for homeless to open
The City of Vancouver is opening four emergency homeless shelters — including at this intersection of Fifth Avenue and Ontario Street — beginning in December. (TYLER ORTON/ 24 HOURS)
The city will open four emergency homeless shelters in December with officials promising efforts will be made to reduce any negative impacts on the surrounding community.
Each of the four Homeless Emergency Active Team shelters will have 40 beds, be funded by the province, and will operate for six months, said Sean Spear, associate director with RainCity Housing and Support Society, who will operate the facilities.
The HEAT shelters will be located in the 1200 block of Seymour Street and the 800 block of Richards in downtown Vancouver; 5th Avenue and Ontario Street, and near Broadway and Victoria in the Commercial Drive area.
Some Yaletown residents have already objected to the Seymour location expressing fears about drug abuse and an increase in crime.
Spear said in the past residents have come to accept the shelters, sometimes even donating food and clothes.
"There are others that don't want a negative impact in their neighbourhood,'' he said. "That's when we work with … the people staying there and say 'we can't be a hassle in the community.'
"The people staying there know they don't want (the shelters) to get shutdown. They are just happy to be indoors.''
Charles Gauthier, executive director of the Downtown Vancouver Business Improvement Association, said his group supports any initiative that gets the homeless off the streets.
"Certainly the devil is in the details in terms of trying to ensure you can find a way to manage and mitigate any of the negative impacts that might be associated with these temporary shelters,'' he said.
Gauthier said he tried to address the concerns of Seymour Street residents.
"Based on our data that we have been collecting for a number of years, when ever homeless shelters get opened up … we see a reduction in street disorder issues,'' he said.
Tom Durrie, president of the Grandview-Woodlands Area Council, expects local residents will accept the Commercial Drive shelter.
"I would not expect a complaint but you never know," he said. "Generally speaking, as opposed to Kerrisdale or Shaughnessy, I think east-enders would be a little more open to that.''