Beds in a temporary shelter

City and Province open temporary shelters for the winter months

October 31 2019 –

A total of 329 shelter spaces, including 91 reopened temporary shelter beds, will be available from tomorrow as part of the City of Vancouver and the Government of B.C.’s winter response strategy.

Funded by the provincial government and the City, temporary shelters are a life-saving measure to ensure people have a warm, dry place to sleep during the city’s coldest, wettest months.

More temporary shelter spaces

This winter will have the highest number of temporary shelter spaces ever opened in the city. More than 230 of the shelter beds were in operation last winter and have remained open thanks to continued operating funding from the provincial government. 

“While we continue to work with senior levels of government to build permanent housing, temporary shelters save lives by ensuring our most vulnerable neighbours have a place to sleep inside during the cold winter months," said Mayor Kennedy Stewart. "In addition to a warm bed, a place to shower, do laundry and eat, temporary shelters are crucial for providing connections to housing and health services.”

“During the colder months, it’s important that people experiencing homelessness in our province know that there is a place they can go to get warm and find supports that can help them stabilize their lives,” said Selina Robinson, Minister for Municipal Affairs and Housing. “As we continue the work of building permanent housing, we’re proud to work in partnership with communities and non-profit housing providers to provide these shelter spaces.”

Shelter initiatives

Temporary shelters are one of four initiatives taken by the City and Province to ensure people in Vancouver have a place to keep warm during the winter months.

Permanent shelter beds

There are more than 900 available across the city. The majority of these beds are open year-round and operate on a 24/7 basis.

Temporary shelters

From November 1, a total of 329 temporary shelter spaces remain open every night throughout the winter.

Extreme weather response shelters

Up to 160 spaces, funded by the provincial government, are available when Extreme Weather Response alerts are issued by the Homelessness Services Association of BC. These are based on criteria including temperature near zero, heavy rainfall and high winds.

Alerts are shared with service providers, TransLink, and numerous other partners who can inform people who are experiencing homelessness.

Learn more about the Extreme Weather Response Program  

Warming centres 

The City activates warming centres in extreme cold weather as a life-saving measure when the temperature reaches -5°C or below (or it feels like -5°C or below). These sites are in addition to Extreme Weather Response shelters, and temporary shelters.

Warming centres provide approximately 100 spaces but they can accommodate anyone who wants to come inside during extreme cold.

While warming centres are not set up with beds or mats, they provide a safe, warm space for people who might be living outside. Warming centre alerts are circulated to partner agencies, community centre staff, outreach program staff, and a variety of agencies serving individuals experiencing homelessness.

The homepage of the City’s website shows an alert when warming centres are activated which includes locations and opening hours.

Find a shelter 

More options for shelter

Community centres and other public buildings are also available during their open hours as spaces to warm up.

Those looking for shelter space can call 2-1-1 to check availability.