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January 13, 2022

Unprecedented prolonged freezing temperatures promoted the Comox Valley Emergency Program to open a temporary Extreme Weather Warming Centre. The Comox Valley Emergency Program is supported by all the Comox Valley local governments to provide emergency assistance and support to our community. Extreme weather warming facilities may be eligible for emergency response funding through Emergency Management BC (EMBC) when an extreme cold weather notification has been issued by Environment and Climate Change Canada.

The Comox Valley Extreme Weather Warming Centre originally opened December 26 – January 2, 2022 at the CVRD's Civic Room located at 770 Harmston Avenue in Courtenay to provide a safe, dry overnight space (8 pm -8 am) to under housed members of our community. With extreme weather forecasted to continue, a funding extension was granted by EMBC and the extreme weather operation relocated first to Courtenay Salvation Army Cornerstone location (January 2-4) and later to Salvation Army Church ( January 5 -12) to offer a more appropriate space and amenities. Onsite services and supports were delivered by Comox Valley Street Outreach and Community Cares Peer Outreach with support from Safety Net Security at all three locations.

Your local governments: City of Courtenay, Town of Comox, Village of Cumberland, Comox Valley Regional District and K'ómoks First Nation would like to thank community partners, staff, local businesses and volunteers who have taken time away from their families during the holiday season and New Year to support this emergency response. Recognition also needs to be provided to the community organizations and programs who provide continuous support every day to under housed individuals in our community: CV Coalition to End Homelessness, Connect Warming Centre, The Salvation Army, CV Community Health Network, Island Health, Indigenous Women’s Sharing Society, Sunday Station, and the local Emergency Responder and Fire Services community.

“Having trained outreach and peer support workers within a facility of this nature is essential as they are qualified to provide care,” explains Howie Siemens, Manager of Emergency Programs. “None of this would have been possible without the generosity of the local business community members who offered in-kind donations of fresh food, last minute essential supplies and services:  Atlas Café, Aunty Toni’s Bannock, The Buddery House, The Butchers Block, Custom Gourmet, Comox Valley Dodge, Comox Valley Hospital, Subway, Comox Taxi Services, Domino’s Pizza, I-Hos Gallery, Kelly O’Bryan’s Restaurant Pub, Locals Restaurant, Nikkei Ramen-Ya, Starbucks, Thrifty Foods on Cliffe, Tidal Café, Tim Hortons on Ryan Road, and White Hat Commercial Cleaners. A special thanks is also needed for Cari McIntyre, CVRD Emergency Planning Coordinator, for providing leadership and essential collaboration with all our community partners and community members.”  

“The compassion and thoughtfulness our community demonstrated helped so many individuals and saved lives. A big thank you to all the outreach and peer support workers who set aside their holiday time to join the on-site team, working long-shifts in harmony to support our community at the centres,” explains Nicole Morrison, Outreach Services Coordinator for the Extreme Weather Warming Centre. “We are all so grateful to the generous citizens who donated and delivered much needed blankets, footwear, jackets, clothing, toques, gloves, hygiene kits, first aid supplies, games, puzzles, art supplies, and a special thank you to the kind soul who delivered hot breakfast sandwiches every morning.”

The Extreme Weather Warming Centre hosted 370 visitors December 26 until January 12. Clientele ranged in years with a majority under 40, approximately 65% identifying as male. Most were local to Comox Valley, some are employed locally and are unable to find a permanent safe place to live.

The Comox Valley Regional District is a federation of three electoral areas and three municipalities providing sustainable services for residents and visitors to the area. The members of the regional district work collaboratively on services for the benefit of the diverse urban and rural areas of the Comox Valley.


Comox Valley Emergency Program Media Contact:

Howie Siemens
Manager of Emergency Programs
Tel: 250-334-6488

Comox Valley Temporary Extreme Weather Warming Centre Media Contact

Nicole Morrison
Outreach Services Coordinator (Contractor)
Tel: 250-702-4374