Nanaimo’s winter shelter extends hours

NANAIMO – The shelter on Townsite Road is now open an hour earlier every day until the end of March, thanks to a grant.

Nanaimo’s homeless will be able to get out of the cold and wet sooner at the Unitarian shelter.

The shelter on Townsite Road is now open an hour earlier every day until the end of March, thanks to a grant from the Unitarian Church of Victoria.

The shelter received $4,000, and will put the money toward opening at 6 p.m. for people to sleep, eat and have their laundry done.

Marla Thorburn, shelter executive director, said it seems a small thing to open an hour early, but this is the first time it could be done in eight years of operation.

Even though the shelter used to open at 7 p.m., she said people were waiting in the parking lot to get in at 5:30 p.m.

“It makes us feel like we are really positively impacting the people that we serve,” she said. “We are having 24-26 people every night and to let them in out of the cold an hour earlier feels great.”

Kevan Griffith, shelter coordinator said it’s an extra hour of everything – love, warmth and a place to belong.

The shelter has had significant cuts to its funding in the last two years and continues to fundraise to offset the reduction and diversify its funding, according to Thorburn.

Still on the shelter’s wish list is to open a month early, in October, than November.