Bakerview Mennonite Brethren Church will be the site of an emergency shelter aimed at increasing physical distancing among those with no homes. Google Street View image

Bakerview Mennonite Brethren Church will be the site of an emergency shelter aimed at increasing physical distancing among those with no homes. Google Street View image

Emergency homeless shelter open at Abbotsford church

Clearbrook Road location allows for better physical distancing in shelters

A new temporary shelter has opened at an Abbotsford church with the hope of allowing those with no home to better protect themselves against COVID-19.

Bakerview Mennonite Brethren Church on Clearbrook Road is home to a new “emergency response centre,” which is open 24 hours and provide meals, temporary housing, mobile showers and other amenities for the homeless. The shelter is able to accommodate 42 people, and also include spaces for pets.

The site isn’t open to the public, and those using it must first receive a referral by Fraser Health.

Adding a new shelter is intended to allow existing spaces to reconfigure their sites to ensure more physical distancing between occupants.

Council recently changed rules to allow for such shelters during emergencies.

Coun. Ross Siemens said a shelter on the west side of the city will help address a key need.

“It’s not just people living in campsites. We have people living in cars, we have people precariously housed. This is a response centre that is actually going to be open 24 hours so individuals can come in and actually get some sleep, get the nutrition they need – vitamins and try and build their immune system.”

“COVID is one issue these folks are facing, but there’s a whole other layer of health issues.”

The shelter is temporary and now has permission to operate until December, but Siemens said he hoped it would help the city convince senior levels of government to provide more permanent solutions.

Coun. Dave Loewen, who was hailed for his work in helping get the shelter running, said the location was also well-suited for a shelter.

“This is a residential issue. We have people in need of a residence, and what better place than a church in the middle of a residential area. I want to commend all the partners here and [I] support this 100 per cent.”

RELATED: COVID-19: Shelter-seeking B.C. homeless group resorts to sleeping in graveyard

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