A temporary emergency weather shelter is now open at the Burns Lake Motor Inn. (Eddie Huband photo/Lakes District news)

A temporary emergency weather shelter is now open at the Burns Lake Motor Inn. (Eddie Huband photo/Lakes District news)

First returns on Burns Lake Motor Inn shelter

Temporary weather shelter has been working wonders so far

The Burns Lake Motor Inn has been in use as a temporary emergency weather shelter for the homeless since Nov. 9, and so far, the pilot project seems to be benefiting the community in a big way.

Lakes District News spoke to Lon Hoffer, who is from Calgary and is currently living homeless in Burns Lake, about his experience using the shelter.

“It’s day-to-day, so you have to check in every evening at 4 p.m. and check out at 11. a.m. The whole thing is in the very early stages,” he said. “Two good meals are provided, breakfast and a hot dinner. One night I was there it was chicken noodle soup and some good bannock. A good night sleep helps the energy level greatly and Nathan has been great.”

A cold breakfast of cereal, granola and coffee is served daily at the temporary shelter. (Eddie Huband photo/Lakes District News)

A cold breakfast of cereal, granola and coffee is served daily at the temporary shelter. (Eddie Huband photo/Lakes District News)

The man he is referring to is Nathan Nicholas, a Lake Babine Nation member who is caretaker of the building and supervisor of the pilot project. According to Nicholas, operations have been running smoothly so far. “There’s been anywhere from five to 10 people staying each night. In a room each person gets a microwave, a bed, a coffee maker as well as clean towels. Everyone who has stayed so far has thoroughly enjoyed the experience,” Nicholas told Lakes District News.

Each room consists of a clean bed, running water, a coffee maker and a microwave. (Eddie Huband photo/Lakes District News)

Each room consists of a clean bed, running water, a coffee maker and a microwave. (Eddie Huband photo/Lakes District News)

Nicholas, along with one other staff member, looks after checking people in and out of the building and providing meals which are paid for by operational funding from B.C. Housing, given to Lake Babine Nation to manage the shelter. In addition providing the meals, Nicholas is also responsible for cleaning, and even providing counselling to give options for training opportunities to point people in the right direction to find work.

Nicholas went on to say that access to a warm shower seems to have the biggest impact with people who stay at the shelter. “Warm showers are important, a lot of homeless people have problems with applying to jobs and training courses because they don’t have the means to look presentable. We had one man passing through town, trying to get to Prince Rupert for a job opportunity. Access to a shower and a chance to bathe really seemed to mean a lot to him.”

Nicholas says that though its mandatory to check in prior to each evening, there’s no limits to how long a person can stay at the shelter, so long as they follow the rules.

“There’s no alcohol and no drugs allowed on the premises. As long as those rules are respected, anyone can stay as many nights in a row as they would like.”

READ MORE: Village of Burns Lake council moves forward with temporary use permit

READ MORE: Fatality of homeless man in Burns Lake


Have a story tip? Email:

Eddie Huband
Multimedia Reporter
eddie.huband@ldnews.net
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