Volunteer Izabelle Perry stands behind two locals enjoying the Gorge Hall Fireplace during a Warming Centre opening. Photo credit: Kate Maddigan
Due to an unusual cold weather event on Cortes Island during the holidays, the Gorge Community Hall in Whaletown opened its doors as a warming centre for two days with the assistance of the Strathcona Regional District’s (SRD) Protective Services.
The hall was open on Dec. 28-29 between 12-9 p.m., with local volunteer Izabelle Perry keeping the fireplace going for locals to come in, warm up by the fire and use internet services as needed. Perry said she is aware of many people on Cortes Island who live in unsuitable housing for sub-zero temperatures as experienced over the holidays, and, at the urging of a few residents, she got involved to open the hall as a warming centre.
Protective Services Coordinator Shaun Koopman indicated in an email that normally warming centres are only activated after at least two nights of power outages during cold temperatures. While there was no prolonged power outage to trigger an SRD warming centre activation on Cortes Island during this time, the SRD agreed to assist the hall as a warming centre by notifying the public of its opening on the Cortes Tideline website.
Perry later reported that five people used the hall’s warming centre during the two days it was open, and the hall currently has no plans to re-open for this purpose.
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