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City of Castlegar says province is cutting funding for temporary winter shelter

The move will mean the closure of the Out of the Cold shelter
The Out of the Cold shelter is located at 1660 Columbia Ave. Photo: Betsy Kline

The City of Castlegar is asking the provincial government to reverse a decision to end funding for its temporary homeless winter shelter.

In what the city describes as a surprise move, Castlegar received notice that the Ministry of Housing had unilaterally decided to discontinue funding as of April 30.

This will result in the closure of the Out of the Cold shelter and impact support services located at 1660 Columbia Ave.

“City of Castlegar Council is extremely disappointed and concerned about this decision,” reads a news release issued by the city on April 17.

They are asking the government to continue funding Castlegar’s shelter and support services so that they can remain operational until a permanent shelter is in place.

“Losing our shelter, and especially our outreach services, would have devastating consequences for those who rely on its services, public safety, and our community at large,” states a letter sent by Mayor Maria McFaddin to Housing Minister Ravi Kahlon.

The city says that since the shelter opened in December 2023 there has been a significant reduction in fire, ambulance, and RCMP calls associated with the city’s most vulnerable residents.

“This decision came as a surprise and is contrary to previous indications from provincial staff that our local shelter and outreach services would continue to receive funding through next winter.”

The city says it worked closely with the service provider, the community, local contractors, Interior Health and BC Housing to secure funding to open the temporary shelter. Work is also being done with BC Housing to identify a location for a permanent shelter.

The shelter is operated by Castlegar and District Community Services Society. Since opening, it has seen over 40 unique individuals use the shelter, provided 735 nights of shelter, and is almost always at full capacity.

Shelter manager Deb McIntosh says the closure may have tragic consequences.

“We are disapointed in B.C. Housing for not having the foresight to help people year round,” said McIntosh. “Conditions don’t change. Clients will go from housed to living in the bush. That will result in death for some of them.”

However, McIntosh is grateful that the city is trying to help.

“We thank the City of Castlegar for advocating for us and understanding that a well-run shelter is an asset to the community, not a detriment.”

It also offers essential services such as meals, emotional support, hygiene resources, basic health care, access to provincial supports and daily activity.

“The Province and B.C. Housing understand the urgent need for shelter spaces in Castlegar, especially during the winter months,” the Ministry of Housing told Castlegar News in an email.

The ministry said BC Housing is not cutting funding for Castlegar’s shelter, as the shelter was always intended to be a temporary space for the winter season with temporary shelters generally open only from Nov. 1 to April 30.

“We recognize that there is still a need for a long-term solution to meet the needs of people requiring shelter and BC Housing works with shelter operators to understand where capacity can be added or where sites could be converted to permanent shelters,” said the ministry.

They added that B.C. Housing is working with local partners to secure a location for a new shelter site in the community and expects to be able to share an update soon.

The entire letter to Kahlon can be found at

Betsy Kline

About the Author: Betsy Kline

After spending several years as a freelance writer for the Castlegar News, Betsy joined the editorial staff as a reporter in March of 2015. In 2020, she moved into the editor's position.
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