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Burnaby's emergency homeless shelter to stay open as new homes are built

New supportive housing units at Norland Place won't be finished until the fall of 2021
A temporary shelter is staying open until more permanent housing is completed.

The City of Burnaby has approved an extension of licensing agreement for BC Housing's Emergency Response Centre temporary shelter. 

In 2018, city council passed a motion that allowed staff to pursue work needed to improve homelessness in Burnaby. 

City staff say in response to COVID-19, BC Housing has worked with numerous municipalities to open emergency response centres, including Burnaby.

The centres are similar to a temporary shelter and are a safe space for people who are experiencing homelessness, providing safe distancing amid the ongoing pandemic. The shelters provide accommodations 24 hours a day, seven days a week. 

Burnaby's emergency response centre was opened in the east parking lot of Burnaby Lake Sports Complex (3860 Sperling Ave.). 

To help the centre operate, a licensing agreement with the city and BC Housing was signed to allow the installation of modular trailers, which houses 40 beds for those who are homeless while work continued to develop more supportive housing units at Norland Place (3986 Northland Ave). 

The shelter is operated by Burnaby-based Progressive Housing Society and the shelter started taking guests by referrals through Fraser Health and BC Housing on Feb. 1. 

The agreement between the city and BC Housing was from Oct. 28, 2020, until the end of this month (June 30), however the units located at Norland Place will not be finished until this coming fall. 

That has prompted BC Housing to request an extension of the current agreement until Dec. 31. 

In a recent report, the city says the licensing agreement extension aligns with the policy objectives of the city's Equity Policy (2020), Mayor's Task Force Community Housing Final Report (2019), the Corporate Strategic Plan (2017), the Social Sustainability Strategy (2011) and the Official Community Plan (1998). 

Progressive Housing Society signed its own contract with BC Housing, which operates the centre on its behalf.

Key features in the agreement include: 

  • Operation 24 hours, seven days a week
  • Client access to the facility by referral only 
  • Supervision provided by at least two staff at all times
  • Provision of secure storage for personal belongings, including carts and bikes
  • Pet friendly
  • Provision of a meal program, housing outreach and other support services occupants
  • Overdose prevention monitoring similar to services provided at the Douglas shelter and the Norland Place supportive housing
  • Provision of health, mental health and substance use supports by Fraser Health

Council also passed a motion for staff to inform BC Housing of the decision.

- With files from Dustin Godfrey