Warming centre lease expires end of August, Whispers of Hope confirms

A July 31 deadline was initially given to the operators but was changed to allow for month’s notice

Though the warming centre at 7500 Donaldson Dr. was originally reported to be closing July 31, Whispers of Hope Benevolence Society told the Gazette Thursday that their lease with the building actually extends until the end of August.

The Gazette reported earlier in July that the tenants were given a July 31 deadline to leave by building owners Weeds Glass & Gifts. However, Jim Kennedy, a representative for the cannabis retail store company, said Thursday that they discovered that the end-of-lease notice could only apply to a full month based on the rental calendar. Because the building is leased month-to-month, that one-month notice effectively only kicked in Aug. 1.

Just because the lease extends another month, though, does not mean that the warming centre will be able to operate with full services through August. BC Housing, the funder for the shelter, told the Gazette Friday that “council’s decision to enforce a zoning bylaw resulted in the closure of [the warming centre] on July 31.” BC Housing funding rules dictate that it is “not able to fund operations against city bylaw orders and landlord eviction notices.”

Whispers of Hope board Chair Duane Foster said that the facility is now “winding down,” but organizers say they may still offer services over the next two weeks while there are still paid staff. BC Housing added that “if the city is prepared to extend temporary use of the site and permit overnight stays, BC Housing will provide funding to continue operations […].”

To date, the warming centre has received $226,000 from BC Housing for operational costs, according to an email from the Crown corporation.

The original July 31 date came about after city analysis of the zoning bylaws governing the area found that the building does not allow for overnight use, despite the fact that organizers say there have been 14-16 regulars who overnight at the facility. Council voted 6-1 (with Mayor Brian Taylor opposed) to direct staff to enforce the zoning bylaw at a meeting in June.

The city now says that Whispers of Hope will have an opportunity to appear before council on Aug. 12 to make their case for the city to ease up on the zoning bylaw. Until then, said Kevin McKinnon, deputy corporate officer for the city, bylaw enforcement will not be “heavy handed” with regards to the warming centre.

The warming centre was started last winter as a 100-day extreme weather shelter but has continued to operate past its original end date in March through funding extensions from BC Housing, which still lists the facility as a “temporary shelter” on their website.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

A second wave of COVID-19 is probable, if history tells us anything

B.C.’s top doctor says that what health officials have learned this round will guide response in future

Snow expected to hit West Kootenay passes overnight on Thursday

Up to 15 cm of snow could fall on Highway 3 between Paulson summit to Kootenay Pass by Friday morning

Former Grand Forks fire chief suing city for wrongful dismissal

Dale Heriot was fired in July 2019 after his department was investigated for safety, bullying issues

Regional District of Kootenay Boundary seeks online feedback on transit, housing

Surveys on the RDKB’s website are asking for input to help plan for the future

School District 51 staff iron out plan for return to classrooms

Teachers are looking for a comprehensive health and safety plan to be in place before June 1

LIVE: Procession to honour Snowbirds Capt. Jennifer Casey comes to Halifax

Snowbirds service member died in a crash in Kamloops one week ago

RCMP facing ‘systemic sustainability challenges’ due to provincial policing role

Provinces, territories and municipalities pay anywhere from 70 to 90 per cent of the cost of the RCMP’s services

One man dead after standoff with Chilliwack RCMP

The Independent Investigations Office of B.C. is investigating the RCMP’s role in the death

B.C. employers worry about safety, cash flow, second wave in COVID-19 restart

A survey found 75 per cent of businesses worry about attracting customers

Ex-BC Greens leader Andrew Weaver says province came close to early election

Disagreement centred on the LNG Canada project in northern B.C.

Canada’s NHL teams offer options to season-ticket holders

Canadian teams are offering refunds, but also are pushing a number of incentives to let them keep the money

B.C. premier says lessons to learn from past racism during response to pandemic

B.C. formally apologized in the legislature chamber in 2008 for its role in the Komagata Maru tragedy

Snowbirds to remain at Kamloops Airport indefinitely after fatal crash

small contingent of the Snowbirds team is staying in Kamloops, acting as stewards of the jets

Oak Bay man stumbles upon eagle hunting seal, grabs camera just in time

The eagle did ‘a perfect butterfly stroke to shore’ with its prey, photographer says

Most Read