Coronavirus: Makeshift homeless shelter to open at Victoria hockey arena

A new 45-bed emergency response centre is opening on the playing surface at Victoria’s Save-On-Foods Memorial Centre.

The city’s main venue for hockey games, concerts and other special events is set to become B.C.’s first makeshift homeless shelter under the COVID-19 pandemic to feature pop-up pods that look a bit like cubicles to allow users a measure of privacy.

Campers along Pandora Avenue and in Topaz Park are set to move in the coming days, as part of the province’s plan to move homeless people in Victoria and Vancouver into safer, temporary accommodation and help slow the spread of the virus.

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“This is a challenging time for everyone, especially for people experiencing homelessness,” Social Development and Poverty Reduction Minister Shane Simpson said.

GSL Group, which runs the Save-On-Foods Memorial Centre, also operates Prospera Place in Kelowna and three Planet Ice locations in Metro Vancouver.

The province has said it plans to expand the use of pop-up pods, which can be set up quickly, to other emergency response centres.

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