The Salvation Army’s Lighthouse Shelter in Salmon Arm will no longer exist as a shelter, come May 31.
The organization will, however, continue to provide the other services it offers.
Lieut. Joel Torrens, of the Salvation Army, said the shelter will be closing its doors because, while it works as an overnight space, people need more.
“Through the pandemic, we’ve seen that the need for sheltering in Salmon Arm exceeds what the current space can offer…What’s needed is a place people can come and have a little more space of their own, not have to leave in the morning and check in at night. They need a 24-hour space.”
Historically the Lighthouse Shelter would open in November and close at the end of March. But because of the pandemic, it stayed open beyond March 31 in 2020.
When the former McGuire Lake Congregate Living facility building became available and was made ready, the shelter moved there. It provided full-time accommodation.
However, in November 2021, the shelter moved back to its former location at 441 Third St. SW when the McGuire Lake facility was no longer available.
This year it again extended its closing date beyond March 31.
“We’ve known since we moved back…in November the space wasn’t sufficient to meet the needs of the community,” Torrens said. “Knowing a transition was on the horizon, we didn’t want to do it during the cold winter months…It allows us to get things moving sufficiently so there will be a better option before winter hits.”
Asked about a future shelter for people who need one, Torrens said, “There are a number of groups working on plans for what the sheltering can look like in Salmon Arm.”
He said the Salvation Army and other organizations try to find resources and services that fit the people they encounter.
Sometimes that’s in the community, sometimes it’s outside.
He said the dormitory-style shelter can be a deterrent for some people. “We hope to have more for them if there are different kinds of spaces available.”
Asked if staffing the Lighthouse Shelter has been a problem, Torrens said staffing is always an issue. When the shelter operates seasonally, it doesn’t provide a stable income.
However, he said, “we have incredible staff who come back every year.”
He said the Salvation Army is going to continue to operate the food bank and the community food forest. The goal for the future is to find how the Salvation Army can offer programs and help people in new ways.
Cedar Place is having a very positive impact on the people who live there, he noted.
“You can see it in their countenance, the way they hold themselves, you can see it in their faces.”
Run by the Canadian Mental Health Association, Shuswap-Revelstoke, Cedar Place provides studio suites.
There is a shared gathering space and staff onsite 24/7 to provide support for people experiencing or at risk of homelessness.
Torrens said the people living there are connecting with resources. “They seem more at peace, more confident – it’s fantastic.”
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