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

Comments are closed

Just Posted

Rosslanders celebrate Canada Day in style

Locals organized a museum scavenger hunt, a Mt. Roberts flag-raising ceremony and evening fireworks

Hwy 1 flooding causes massive delays on certain Arrow Lakes ferry routes

Motorists have been waiting around three hours to get on ferries

Rossland Museum and Discovery Centre expands operations online

The facility also opened back up to the public earlier in June

Mills oppose Celgar’s ask for cheaper logs destined for chipper

The Castlegar mill has asked the province for a lower rate for any log that goes straight to pulp

City of Rossland’s annual report focuses on infrastructure

The city released the report online last month

QUIZ: A celebration of dogs

These are the dog days of summer. How much do you know about dogs?

Police ramp up efforts to get impaired drivers off B.C. roads this summer

July is dedicated to the Summer CounterAttack Impaired Driving Campaign

Migrant workers stage multi-city action for full status amid COVID-19 risks

‘COVID-19 has exacerbated an existing crisis’

Okanagan school drops ‘Rebels’ sports team name, citing links with U.S. Civil War

Name and formerly-used images “fly in the face” of the district’s human rights policy, says board chair

PHOTOS: B.C.’s top doc picks up personalized Fluevog shoes, tours mural exhibition

Murals of Gratitude exhibit includes at least one portrait of Henry alongside paintings of health-care workers

In troubled times: Independence Day in a land of confusion

Buffeted by invisible forces and just plain worn out, the United States of America celebrates its 244th birthday

Stop enforcing sex work laws during COVID-19, advocates say

There are provisions in Canada’s prostitution laws that make workers immune from prosecution, but not from arrest

Liberal party finished 2019 having spent $43 million, raised $42 million

All political parties had until midnight June 30 to submit their financial reports for last year

B.C. teacher loses licence after sexual relationships with two recently-graduated students

The teacher won’t be allowed to apply for a teaching certificate until 2035

Most Read