A new program at Canada Games Pool will give people who are homeless a place where they can shower three times a week.
In a recent report to council, staff noted that many faith-based and non-profit organizations are offering limited access to their facilities because of COVID-19. As a result, people who are homeless have been having difficulty accessing toilet and shower facilities in New Westminster.
“Given the COVID-19 pandemic, it has become increasingly difficult for at-risk and vulnerable populations to meet their varied needs, including related to hygiene,” said Claudia Freire, the city’s housing and social planner. “The objective of the Access to Shower Program is to provide individuals who are experiencing homelessness access to showers in a safe space at a civic facility.”
The Access to Shower Program, which starts on Monday, March 1 at the Canada Games Pool, is a partnership between the city’s parks and recreation department and the New Westminster Homelessness Coalition Society. It’s funded by the federal government’s Reaching Home: Canada’s Homelessness Partnering Strategy.
In addition to enjoying a hot shower in a private stall, folks will receive a comfort kit that includes a variety of items.
“The program will be accessible to women on Mondays from 2 to 4 p.m. and to men on Wednesdays and Fridays from 2 to 4 p.m.; non-gender-identifying individuals can access the program on all three days,” Freire said in an email to the Record. “Individuals will be provided with a transit ticket and a courtesy bag, which includes a towel, socks, underwear, soap, toothbrush, toothpaste, shampoo, conditioner, deodorant, comb, feminine hygiene products, granola bar, drinking box, mask and a $15 gift card to Tim Hortons.”
A variety of COVID-19 protocols will be in place as part of the program, including the requirement to wear masks, be screened for COVID-19 and provide information about how the individual can be reached if contact tracing is required.
Lookout Housing and Health Society, the Lower Mainland Purpose Society, the Union Gospel Mission, the Elizabeth Fry Society and Holy Trinity Church are among the local organizations that will be sharing information about the service with people who may benefit from the program.