The North Coast Transition Society is close to securing a location for an extreme weather shelter in Prince Rupert, and expects it to be open within the week.
“The location is downtown, it’s central and big enough for what we need for the immediate moment,” said Grainne Barthe, program manager for the North Coast Transition Society (NCTS).
By the end of Friday, Nov. 17, Barthe is hoping they can publicly announce where the emergency shelter will be located.
“We’re really excited and I hope the community will work with us and support it and people will be patient with any kinks. We’re going into this head first,” Barthe said.
The government has offered bare bones funding for the shelter, she said, but once the society knows what the budget is like they will reach out to the community for more support.
At the Nov. 14 city council meeting, Mayor Lee Brain called on the community to fundraise and support the transition society in its growing role.
This came after North Coast MLA Jennifer Rice announced that 44 modular housing units would be coming to the city to assist those living on the streets, and that the North Coast Transition Society (NCTS) would be responsible for the wrap-around services as well as establishing an emergency winter shelter.
“In terms of fundraising efforts and getting the community involved, I really strongly feel that those finances should be directed at the transition house. They’re really going to be taking on a whole lot more. We should be coming behind them as a community,” Brain said.
Mayor Brain recently dressed as a woman, Mz. Anita Vote, for the transition society’s biennial beauty pageant fundraiser Mz. Judged. He raised $2,000 for the event, which raised an estimated total of $20,000 on Friday, Nov. 10.
The mayor was also wearing a button on his suit jacket that read “Prince Rupert homeless” with a cross through it. Councillor Blair Mirau also sported the button. Dawn Quast and Patrika McEvoy were selling the pins in city hall, and have been selling them outside where a tent city has been set up.
“Yes, we will support the transition society with its new mandate, but right now we’re busy providing for the people who are here in the tent city,” Quast said.
McEvoy said with the funds she raised on Tuesday she purchased ten pairs of long johns for the people sleeping outside in tent city.
“There’s frost up on the tarp. My whole body is numb just from visiting them. It’s cold out,” she said, holding a sign that read “Unity City — Tents for Change.”
She is planning on forming a society to be accountable for donations coming in, and after meeting the immediate needs of the people at tent city she said they will raise funds for the transition society.
On Tuesday, Nov. 21, the group, Unity City — Tents for Change is hosting a loonie auction at the Nisga’a Hall starting at 4:30 p.m. “To help to continue to provide basic needs to our local homeless on the streets and in the tents,” the Facebook event page states, adding that any ideas for fundraising efforts are welcome.