A shelter with self-isolation measures in place for Richmond’s homeless population – along with health and personal support – will open at the former Minoru Place Activity Centre on Tuesday.
The Emergency Response Centre (ERC) will operate 24/7 and is a part of the provincial COVID-19 strategy to allow people, including those without permanent homes, to remain healthy and safe during the pandemic.
It will house up to 45 people at anyone one time, however, entry will be done gradually, for example, five people per day.
The ERC is not a drop-in centre, and those coming there will need a referral through Vancouver Coastal Health, other health-care providers or the RCMP.
The ERC is funded by BC Housing with Turning Point Recovery Society contracted to operate it. The lease is only until mid-August.
Currently, the new homeless shelter at Ironwood has reduced occupancy to ensure physical distancing of those staying there.
The Minoru Place Activity Centre, however, is earmarked to be renovated into an arts and cultural centre.
Design work is currently underway to transform the space, explained Richmond Mayor Malcolm Brodie.
He said once this temporary emergency use is over, work should be starting on refurbishing the building.
“If there is any delay in repurposing, it’s a very short one,” he added.
Brodie said, since the opening of the temporary modular housing building on Alderbridge Way more than year ago, the city has been actively looking for another location to provide housing for the homeless, but there are no concrete plans at the moment.
The city is providing the space for the ERC while VCH is responsible for health-related services and referrals.
Anyone at the ERC with COVID-19 symptoms will be tested and sent to hotel rooms or the hospital while waiting for test results.
While the location is not in close to residences, the city is advising nearby properties of the centre as a courtesy.