BC Housing in collaboration with Turning Points Collaborative Society announced, May 12, 2020, Vernon’s emergency shelter — housed in the curling club — is the first in the province to introduce sleeping pods to better protect those experiencing homelessness against COVID-19. (Turning Points)

BC Housing in collaboration with Turning Points Collaborative Society announced, May 12, 2020, Vernon’s emergency shelter — housed in the curling club — is the first in the province to introduce sleeping pods to better protect those experiencing homelessness against COVID-19. (Turning Points)

COVID-19: Vernon emergency shelter first in province to add sleeping pods

Turning Points and BC Housing partnered to introduce extra safety measure amid pandemic

Sleeping pods have been added to the amalgamated shelter in the Vernon Curling Club to help ensure social distancing amid the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

Two Vernon homeless shelters, Our Place and Gateway Shelter, were combined in the curling club in early April to provide more space and resources for those experiencing homelessness during these unprecedented times.

Vernon was the first city in British Columbia to amalgamate its emergency shelters to better protect those experiencing homelessness from COVID-19.

Turning Points Collaborative Society, BC Housing, Interior Health and the City of Vernon amalgamated the two sites in the larger facility, which allows for greater physical distancing for clients and staff.

The curling club houses 70 beds, each sectioned off into a 10-by-10 area to maximize distancing, additional sanitization and portable hand-washing stations and additional PPE, including masks and scrubs, for staff.

Now, Vernon is the first community in the province to add the extra safety measure: the sleeping pods.

“Our goal throughout this pandemic has always been to protect the health and safety of our clients, staff and the community at large,” Turning Points’ executive director Randene Wejr said.

“The sleeping pods are just another in many health and safety measure we have put in place over the past several weeks.”

The pods were made possible through a partnership with BC Housing, which funds the shelter, and Turning Points, the shelter’s operator.

The sleeping pods will soon be introduced into other emergency shelters across B.C.

“All of these ‘best practices’ we have introduced have resulted due to strong partnerships with regional and local governments and organizations,” Wejr said.

“We are incredibly proud of these partnerships, not only are they proving to be beneficial for our clients and staff, but they are making communities safer and healthier for everyone right across British Columbia.”

READ MORE: COVID-19: Vernon homeless shelters combine in curling club

READ MORE: Chamber not pleased with overdose prevention site in downtown Vernon

Elsewhere in B.C., the provincial government has made agreements with a number of hotels in Victoria and Vancouver to serve as temporary supportive housing for 600 people living across three tent cities, many of whom are vulnerable to the novel coronavirus.

“While a fear of COVID-19 sweeps through our communities, we must also remember there are those who are facing this pandemic without shelter and without the support which many of us take for granted,” Public Safety Minister Mike Farnworth said in a news conference in Vancouver Saturday, April 25.

“These are people with no place to isolate, no place to rest or relief from this growing global threat.”

An estimated 360 people are currently living at Victoria encampments on Pandora Avenue and in Topaz Park, according to BC Housing data.

Roughly 300 people continue to live at Oppenheimer Park, located on Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside.

Since coming into power in 2017, the Horgan government has secured 2,749 spaces across the province.

But in March, as B.C.’s top doctor declared the COVID-19 pandemic a provincial health emergency, many were reminded that this marks the second health crisis in the province – the first being the ongoing opioid crisis, which was deemed a provincial health emergency by Dr. Bonnie Henry’s predecessor, Dr. Perry Kendall.

“Now, more than ever, with the concurrent emergencies of the pandemic and the ongoing opioid crisis, it is time to implement long-term housing solutions that take care of and protect our most vulnerable people,” said Poverty Reduction Minister Shane Simpson.

In early April, community coordinators in Smithers put together a BC Housing project that saw 8- 10 people relocated from the town core to a temporary camp on the outskirts of town. The camp is a collection of six tents (five residential and one for cooking) surrounding a central area with picnic tables and fire pit.

Smithers Deputy Mayor Gladys Atrill said the project — which came together in just over a week — is a step forward for Smithers, and could be a model for other communities working on the issue of homelessness.

“I think this is a responsible move, it provides protection for a vulnerable group of people and creates some protection for them and other citizens in view of viral infection,” she said. “I am pretty proud of what people have done; I think it’s a really nice community story.”


@caitleerach
Caitlin.clow@vernonmorningstar.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Coronavirus

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

The District of Tofino has put new restrictions in place around alcohol at public events. (Westerly file photo)
Tofino puts new restrictions on alcohol at public events

Town’s council adopts Municipal Alcohol Policy.

Stand up paddleboarder Christie Jamieson is humbled to her knees as a pod of transient orcas put on a dramatic show on Jan. 19 in the Ucluelet Harbour. (Nora O’Malley photo)
UPDATED: Ucluelet paddle boarder surrounded by pod of orcas

“My whole body is still shaking. I don’t even know what to do with this energy.”

Gord John stands during question period in Ottawa in Sept. 2020. (PHOTO COURTESY CHRISTIAN DIOTTE, HOUSE OF COMMONS PHOTO SERVICES)
2020: A Year in Review with Courtenay-Alberni MP Gord Johns

NDP MP wants to ‘build back better’ in 2021

Tofino expects to elect a new mayor and two new councillors on March 6. (Westerly file photo)
Nomination period begins for Tofino byelection

Tofino is set to replace former mayor Josie Osborne, who is now the Mid Island-Pacific Rim MLA.

Tla-o-qui-aht First Nation Chantel Moore, 26, was fatally shot by a police officer during a wellness check in the early morning of June 4, 2020, in Edmundston, N.B. (Facebook)
Quebec’s BEI completes investigation into Chantel Moore’s fatal shooting by Edmundston police officer

New Brunswick’s public prosecutions services and chief coroner to conduct public hearing

Syringe is prepared with one of B.C.’s first vials of Pfizer vaccine to prevent COVID-19, Victoria, Dec. 22, 2020. (B.C. government)
B.C.’s COVID-19 caseload stays steady with 465 more Tuesday

No new outbreaks in health care facilities, 12 more deaths

Toronto’s Mass Vaccination Clinic is shown on Sunday January 17, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Frank Gunn
Canadian malls, conference centres, hotels offer up space for COVID vaccination centres

Commercial real estate association REALPAC said that a similar initiative was seeing success in the U.K.

Flags line the National Mall towards the Capitol Building as events get underway for President-elect Joe Biden’s inauguration ceremony, Wednesday, Jan. 20, 2021, in Washington. (AP Photo/Julio Cortez)
Joe Biden has been sworn in as the 46th president of the United States

About 25,000 National Guard members have been dispatched to Washington

The objectives of the Vancouver Island Down Syndrome Society include peer support for parents and caregivers, as well as developing support services, projects, educational and employment opportunities for people with Down Syndrome. Photo supplied.
Vancouver Island Down Syndrome Society offers support for families in the community

New non-profit seeking directors in cities across Vancouver Island

A memorial for the fatal bus crash involving the Humboldt Broncos hockey team at the intersection of Highways 35 and 335 near Tisdale, Tuesday, October 27, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Liam Richards
‘End of the road:’ Truck driver in Humboldt Broncos crash awaits deportation decision

Sidhu was sentenced almost two years ago to eight years after pleading guilty to dangerous driving

Cumberland photographer Sara Kemper recently took the top spot in a Canadian Geographic photography contest. Photo by Sara Kemper
B.C. photographer takes top Canadian Geographic photo prize

Sara Kemper shows what home means to her in Comox Valley photo

Inmates at Metchosin’s William Head Institution are being given COVID-19 vaccines as part of the first phase. Around 600 inmates will be vaccinated in the coming days. (Black Press Media file photo)
William Head prison inmates in receive first doses of COVID vaccine

Priority set for older inmates and those with underlying medical conditions

New Westminster TV production designer, Rick Whitfield, has designed an office in a box for British Columbians in need of a private workspace. (BC Box Office photo)
PHOTOS: B.C. man designs ‘box office’ solution for those working from home

‘A professionally designed workspace on your property, away from the distractions of home’

Chilliwack ER doctor Marc Greidanus is featured in a video, published Jan. 18, 2021, where he demonstrates and describes effectiveness of various styles of masks. (Youtube)
VIDEO: Emergency room doctor runs through pros and cons of various masks

‘We’ve been asked to wear a mask and it’s not that hard,’ Greidanus says.

Most Read