Squamish’s Howe Sound Secondary gym converted to homeless shelter | Squamish Chief

Squamish’s Howe Sound Secondary gym converted to homeless shelter

Downtown shelter too small to accommodate the two-metre COVID-19 distancing rules

The pandemic may have forced classes to go out of session, but schools are still being put to use for a good cause.

Howe Sound Secondary’s gym has been converted into an overnight shelter for Squamish’s at-risk homeless residents.

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Kevin Pederson, the school district’s general manager of operations, said the District approached them to see if they could provide space.

Since the homeless shelter in downtown is too small to accommodate the two-metre social distancing rule outlined by the provincial health officer, authorities have been looking to find space elsewhere.

“We were very motivated to help them out in any way, so, working with Squamish Helping Hands, we have provided the gymnasium at our Howe Sound Secondary School to them for temporary overnight shelter,” said Pederson.

The shelter operates seven days a week from 8 p.m. to 8 a.m.

Staff from Squamish Helping Hands provide supervision, along with Black Tusk Fire and Security.

Maureen Mackell of Helping Hands said the staff are "an amazing group of individuals who are showing up daily to provide this service even in this difficult and frightening health crisis. Kudos go out to our all our staff for their dedication, loyalty and great work. This community is incredibly lucky to have such caring human beings working in this sector providing support and service to our most vulnerable. As the Executive Director for SHHS I cannot express in words just how grateful I am to work with our team. They are the heart of Helping Hands. They provide an essential service in our community."

School district staff clean and disinfect the area daily.

 

***Updated 3:44 p.m. with a quote from Maureen Mackell.

***Correction: A previous version of this story said that staff from Sea to Sky Community Services provide supervision to the shelter. The story was based on communications from School District 48, which has since told The Chief this was an error on their part. In fact, Helping Hands provides the staffing.

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