‘I can survive the cold, I can’t survive the wet… it gets pretty tough’

Vancouver Island shelter user says more year-round resources needed

Temporary shelters close their doors in the early morning, leaving users in some Island commnuities with no place to go for a large portion of the day.

Richard Ashmore, who has been staying at the ‘Sanctuary Sleep’ at St. Anne’s Church in Parksville, said that’s a problem throughout the year — not just when a cold snap hits.

A warming centre was opened this week by OHEART at the Parksville Community Centre. Since Monday, the Red Cedars room has been open to the public. Until Friday, people can go there from noon to 4 p.m. for coffee, juice and snacks. Organizers said they’ve had up to 10 people come by the centre each day.

The centre opened up amid the coldest week of the season. Snow is expected to taper off to rain and warmer temperatures over the weekend.

READ MORE: Warming centre opens in Parksville amid freezing temperatures

READ MORE: How Parksville’s St. Anne’s became a place homeless people would actually go

Although he said it’s vital that people have a place to warm up during the snow and that he’s appreciated the warming centre — he’s been every day — Ashmore said Parksville is still limited on resources.

“It’s way better than when it’s wet and raining, I can survive the cold, I can’t survive the wet, it’s just torrential,” he said. “It gets pretty tough.”

Ashmore said the long hours between when a shelter closes and opens again begs a solution. However, he said he maintains a positive attitude about spending his days outside.

“It gets you up and motivated, though,” he said. “It’s the only way you have to look at it.”

In terms of what he hopes for the Parksville Qualicum Beach area, Ashmore said it would make a big difference to just have a dedicated space where people affected by homelessness could go.

“If we just had a place with a few couches and a television, would be nicer,” he said. “Just a place where we could relax.”


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