About Squamish's Cold Weather Program

Employees sought to run a shelter program that helps people stay warm overnight

With temperatures dropping in Squamish, those without a home may find themselves shivering and looking for a place to sleep that they didn't need in the warm Sea to Sky summer months.

With the Squamish Helping Hands Cold Weather Program, people in need can access extra emergency shelter spaces when the temperature is below zero. The program runs from November to the end of March.

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Last year, the program ran for 84 nights and saw 182 stays, according to Carol Coffey, executive administrator with Squamish Helping Hands Society.

The warm place to sleep serves a vital need in town.

"It is essential that we run this program, because without it, people will be turned away and forced to sleep in the cold and wet that is the norm in Squamish from November to April each year," said Maureen Mackell, executive director at Squamish Helping Hands Society in an email to The Chief.

The Cold Weather Shelter is run with funding from BC Housing and a partnership with the Squamish United Church.

Currently, the program is in great need of staff.

Mackell said they could use five to 10 more employees depending on people’s availability.

"Working nights can be very hard and so many people only like to do it once or twice a week. [Therefore] having a good contingent of people helps to keep the program running while keeping everyone healthy," she said.

Those who sign up for the Cold Weather seasonal shifts may also be eligible to work in the regular shelter.

Struggling to find employees to help run this program is not unusual, Mackell said.

"Finding employees is always on our radar, always a concern for us — both for the Cold Weather Shelter Program and for our regular shelter."

Lack of housing and cost of living is a factor in finding staff for the shelter, as it is for many other businesses in town, she added.

"The Cold Weather Program — also referred to by BC Housing as Extreme Weather Response — can be further challenging as the shifts are all overnights, are uncertain because the shifts depend on the weather, and are at a separate location from our regular Emergency Shelter program located at the Fire House on Third Avenue."

Coffey told The Chief some applications have been received, but the society welcomes more.

For mroe information or to apply, go to www.squamishhelpinghands.ca/about/job-postings.

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