Shelter visits up as weather deteriorates

Unitarian shelter opens early due to extreme weather

The Unitarian Weather Shelter opened its doors early this month due to extreme weather descending on the city.

The 24-bed shelter, operated by the First Unitarian Fellowship of Nanaimo, opened early due to extreme weather from Nov. 4 to 6 and again on Nov. 8, and has stayed open every day since.

The shelter operates as a cold weather shelter from Nov. 15 until March 15. When it operates on extreme weather nights, it receives funding from B.C. Housing, while cold weather nights are funded through a $48,000 grant from Nanaimo’s Working Group on Homelessness.

The shelter was to operate as a cold weather shelter Nov. 15-17, but ran under extreme weather status as well. Extreme weather can include excessive rain or plummeting temperatures, and the working group decides day-to-day whether to open as extreme.

Rev. Karen Fraser Gitlitz said the number of people visiting the shelter climbed steadily since Nov. 4 – which saw four guests – and Nov. 17, when there were 22. For the past few nights visits have been hovering around the high teens to low 20s.

She said there’s been a good response from people volunteering and donating items, but the shelter can always use more.

The fellowship is currently in the process of hiring a volunteer coordinator.

“We’re so grateful for all the people who have expressed concern on how our guests are doing and want to help,” said Fraser Gitlitz. “It’s wonderful to see the compassion in our city for those who are having a difficult time.”

The shelter is seeking donations of coats, track pants and socks – especially large sizes – for people to change into when they arrive at the shelter.

Donations can be dropped off at the Volunteer Nanaimo office at 3-2350 Labieux Rd.

The Unitarian Weather Shelter is open from 7 p.m. to 7 a.m. and is located at 595 Townsite Rd.

To volunteer, donate or for more information, please call 250-755-1215 or go to

Just Posted

LETTER TO THE EDITOR: People experiencing homelessness unlucky

Poverty, illness and marginalization don’t equate to decrepitude, says letter writer

Nanaimo Timbermen in five-way tie for first place

Senior A lacrosse team has a home game Saturday, July 20

Nanaimo Ladysmith education support workers reach tentative three-year deal

Union membership to vote on collective agreement on July 31

Advocates for now-closed Nanaimo soup kitchen ask for city’s help

Wisteria Community Association’s Stone Soup shut down following eviction of owners this week

15-year-old with imitation gun caused ‘dynamic’ scene at Nanaimo mall last night

No one was harmed in Monday’s incident, say Nanaimo RCMP

VIDEO: B.C. MLA Michelle Stilwell takes first steps in nearly 30 years

‘It actually felt like walking. It’s been 27 years… but it felt realistic to me’

Nanaimo mom says she will go to court to try to get allegedly abducted daughter back

Tasha Brown says her estranged wife abducted their daughter Kaydance Etchells in 2016

Dormant Chemainus Foods building to be revived with new market

Initiative expected to bring new life to the community’s downtown core

Local artist explores Nanaimo’s old Chinatown in new video installation

Charlotte Zhang among eight artists in Nanaimo Art Gallery’s ‘Estuary’ exhibition starting this week

Taekwondo instructor, 21, identified as B.C. bat rabies victim

Nick Major, 21, an instructor at Cascadia Martial Arts in Parksville

Report of dead body in B.C. park actually headless sex doll

This discovery, made at Manning Park on July 10, led police to uncovering two other sex mannequins

Three blocks of Bruce Avenue will be closed until fall

Work will include utility upgrades, new curbs and sidewalks and new on-street bike lanes

Grand Forks fire chief found to have bullied, harassed volunteer firefighter: report

WorkSafeBC, third-party human resources investigation looking into allegations complete

Dog recovering after being drenched in hot coffee, B.C. man charged

Man was taken into custody, charged, and released pending a court date

Most Read