Extreme weather shelter programs in Abbotsford and Mission that provide temporary refuge for the homeless have been up and running for some time, long before the snow and sub zero temperatures hit on New Year's Eve.
"We've been open on and off all Christmas and according to the weather forecast, we'll be open at least until Friday," said Dave Murray, coordinator of Abbotsford's extreme weather response plan.
In fact, the community-based program, which provides temporary emergency shelter beds for people who are homeless during periods of cold winter weather, has been activated repeatedly since the beginning of December, said Murray.
Whenever the temperature drops below zero, the Salvation Army, Cyrus Centre for at-risk youth, and a number of Abbotsford churches step up alerts and welcome people who have no shelter from the cold.
Salvation Army and Cyrus Centre outreach workers inform homeless people that the Extreme Weather Alert has been issued and if necessary, transport people to the temporary shelter locations.
This year the number of the people seeking shelter from the cold has been manageable, said Murray.
"Compared to last year, it's been really mild and we haven't had to move anybody to the church shelters," he said.
However, the extreme shelter beds for homeless youth at Cyrus Centre are "pretty much always full," he added.
People are initially housed at the Salvation Army's Centre of Hope on Gladys and then, if the demand is high enough, the program's church partners are called upon.
Sevenoaks Alliance Church on Gladwin Road and Emmanuel Mennonite on Clearbrook Road have committed to covering the need during one of the colder winter months.
However, Murray said it's always helpful to have extra church partners participating in the extreme weather program.
"It's always good to have a number of churches," he said.
"A month is a long time to ask someone to be at the ready at short notice."
The extreme weather program at Mission Community Service's Haven in the Hollow shelter has also been up and running with the start of the miserable weather in November, said program coordinator Franklyn Currie.
The Haven in the Hollow, which normally can shelter 21 people, can house another 15 people on mats when the mercury drops.
As in Abbotsford, the demand for emergency shelter in Mission hasn't been too great as of yet, but is expected to rise as the winter weather worsens.
"There hasn't been a long stretch of extreme weather but now we've had a stretch of cold weather, I suspect we'll see more numbers," said Currie, adding that throughout the year the program is invaluable for providing shelter to those at risk from the cold.
"There is a constant stream of people taking advantage of the program," he said.