Barrie shelters brace for the cold months ahead
BARRIE, ONT. -- This November kicked off with unseasonably warm temperatures, but homeless shelters across Barrie are bracing for snow.
This year there is also the added challenge of the pandemic, which poses many obstacles for both the vulnerable community and those supporting them.
Sarah Peddle, with the David Busby Centre, said they have been working around the clock to think of how to tackle this winter.
"We know very soon we will have very cold nights, with snow, ice and life-threatening temperatures. So that's a big concern for us," said Peddle.
While it's overwhelming, they are fortunate to be continuing their hotel program through the winter. However, Peddle said they are looking for ways to extend their outreach team hours for those on the streets.
"We're making a sure that those not in the shelter and that are out there have proper supplies, blankets, everything needed, food and medical attention," said Peddle.
In the next few weeks, the centre will be doing a homeless enumeration count for the County of Simcoe to find out what our community numbers are and how high the increase has been.
Youth Haven's Lucy Gowers said they would also have their hotel program continuing through the pandemic, but she still has many concerns as the cold weather approaches.
"Winter is a challenge. But it's a bigger challenge because of COVID because the amount of people we can serve has decreased," said Gowers.
Also dealing with an increase in need and a decrease in space is The Salvation Army. Captain Stephanie Watkinson said they are down 15 beds because of COVID-19.
"How can we support increased demand when we can't support the demand we have and the numbers we have," said Watkinson.
The Salvation Army's capacity of just 31 beds will be an issue, especially when they had an overflow of over 60 men in previous winters.
Shelters across Barrie said they are working with the county and the city to find solutions, from expanded facilities, increased beds, and warming stations to increased support and resources.