Boundary Family Services Society board chair Gina Burroughs and executive director Darren Pratt answer questions from Grand Forks city council about operating an extreme cold weather shelter at a council meeting on Jan. 15. (Jensen Edwards/Grand Forks Gazette)

Grand Forks emergency shelter to be managed by Boundary Family Services

The organization got Grand Forks city council’s approval on Jan. 15

Boundary Family Services Society (BFSS) officially assumed operational responsibility for an emergency cold weather shelter in Grand Forks on Tuesday, Jan. 21.

While a shelter at 7500 Donaldson Dr. has been run for a week by volunteers, BFSS will now run the facility as a 10-bed shelter, funded by BC Housing and operated under a set of rules approved by the non-profit’s board and Grand Forks city council last week.

In a Jan. 15 vote, councillors unanimously agreed to “suspend bylaw enforcement action until April 1, 2020” at the shelter location, which otherwise would not permit overnight use for more than one person. “However,” the motion read, “should the operation of the Extreme Cold Weather Shelter create unresolvable community safety concerns prior to then, Council will re-evaluate whether bylaw enforcement action is appropriate.”

BFSS executive director Darren Pratt told council that the shelter will boast 10 beds, and be open 24 hours per day. Pratt said that people on-site must register with staff and sign in between 6 and 8 p.m. If people choose to leave after 10 p.m., they will not be allowed back in for the night, Pratt said.

Asked about security at the building by Coun. Rod Zielinski, Pratt replied, “lights, cameras – no action.”

Under the rules approved by BFSS, anyone on the property must be accounted for by staff.

“If they are not a staff member, registered volunteer or a registered guest, they have no business being on that property, period,” Pratt said. The measure is meant to assuage concerns raised by neighbours about other people hanging around the building. Under the BFSS rules, Pratt said, anyone else would technically be trespassing.

READ MORE: Impromptu shelter opens in Grand Forks

The shelter, as operated by BFSS, was also unanimously endorsed by the Grand Forks Social Services Advisory Group last week, including an approving vote from the Citizens for a Better Grand Forks members, who were concerned about the enforcement of rules at the shelter and the impact on neighbours around the facility.

Earlier this month, Pratt confirmed to city council that BFSS would not operate a shelter in Grand Forks beyond March 31, 2020.

Feedback process

For any feedback on the operation of the shelter – complaint or compliment – the public is asked to first direct their messages to the shelter manager, and then to Pratt at BFSS, before going to the city’s line at info@grandforks.ca. Pratt said this was the best way to get problems fixed in a timely fashion, rather than having city staff relay complaints back to the shelter.

“We’ve written [the motion] in such a way that if something goes wrong, we’ll be pounding on the door,” Zielinski said before voting to approve the shelter. “At least, we’ll have discussion at this table and I’ll be pounding on the desk that those rules weren’t followed.”

“I have every confidence that it will be well run and that the community will benefit from this,” Coun. Christine Thompson added.

Pratt said that a community meeting with neighbours will be scheduled to hear their concerns and input into the shelter’s operations.


@jensenedw
Jensen.edwards@grandforksgazette.ca

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Homeless

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

Just Posted

Big White’s $10-Million housing project helps attract employees

The resort is building four new buildings in Black Forest

Boundary Adult Hockey League moves into the final 4

Semi-finals start Feb. 25 in Grand Forks

Tax clinics for Boundary residents begin March 4

Drop-in times are available at ServiceBC, the Grand Forks Library, Gospel Chapel and in Greenwood

Greenwood Public Library looks to next chapter

The institution celebrated 75 years on Feb. 20

IN PHOTOS: 2020 Wilgress Lake Fishing Derby

Fishermen dotted Wilgress Lake for the Boundary Métis Association’s annual event

VIDEO: Minister says consider coronavirus outbreak when planning for spring break

Foreign Affairs minister points to rash of new cases appearing in places like Italy and Iran

B.C. man who pulled a gun on off-duty cop gets two years in prison

Encounter also lead police to a home where 100 guns and explosives were found

Protecting privacy key to stopping spread of COVID-19, B.C. health officials say

The number of coronavirus cases in B.C. remains at seven

COLUMN: Forestry no longer close to top of B.C.’s economy

Our reactions to a forestry downturn reflect the past, not the present

Caught on camera: Police release video of man who allegedly stole seaplane in Vancouver

Police say the man broke into the Harbour Air terminal and then got into one of the seaplanes in the harbour

51 health professionals send letter to Trudeau, Horgan panning northern B.C. pipeline

They point to studies about the health and climate change risks from pipeline

Fake meat and a latte? Starbucks adds Beyond Meat in Canada

The Seattle roaster has talked about introducing plant-based patties in the U.S., but has yet to do so

Most Read