As winter and cold days continue, homeless people not having a place to stay warm continues to be a problem. With the overnight shelter only be open from 6:00 p.m. to 7:00 a.m., and the warming centre only be open during times of extreme cold, many homeless people in Strathmore struggle to stay warm.

One homeless person explained many businesses won't allow homeless people to stay inside, and malls like the Strathmore Centre often kick them out as well. Because of this, more often than not there isn't a place for them to stay in the cold. However, what can be done to address the issue?

The Town of Strathmore's Manager of Community and Social Development Catherine Walsh explained the Town is aware of this issue, but unfortunately there isn't an easy solution. For example, the Overnight Shelter is purely volunteer run, and volunteers have to be trained to handle crisis situation or medical problems, so simply getting more volunteers and expanding hours isn't as easy as it may sound. Walsh explained several groups focused on helping people in poverty met last month to discuss this to try and coordinate their efforts.

"It was good to come together as organizations to see what we all offer and how we can work better together to provide services for them. We have formed a few subcommittees to keep the conversation moving forward, one subcommittee is going to be about mental health and the other one's going to be frontline services, and then another subcommittee is long term organized, like housing. We know that we need to gather more information and data to figure out what is needed in Strathmore, to better support our homeless or near homeless population," Walsh said. 

Strathmore FCSS and other groups already offer various supports, as Walsh explained FCSS has several programs to help with addiction and mental health, or Wheatland Employment Services trying to find people jobs. But what about the immediate need of finding a place for homeless people to stay in from the cold? One homeless person suggested turning vacant lots in town into potential shelters.

"If they could open up one of the old stores that are closed and have security in there and we could bring our own coffee pots and stuff and sit there, play games or whatever all day. I don't know if that would ever be feasible," they said. 

While it's too early to say whether or not this could happen, Walsh said any idea is on the table, and she and several groups in Strathmore are always trying to offer the best support they can.

"We are aware of the needs in the community, t's just coming up with a plan on what that may look like and what is the best case scenario and how to better support them. The community is providing the best care that they can at this point and I'm not sure exactly what the next steps of that are going to look like, but it's certainly on the table of conversation often," Walsh said.

Ultimately, Walsh explained it comes down to whether or not solutions are feasible. While she of course would like to offer every support needed, money does come into play as well so it's about finding how to offer supports that can make an important difference while also staying sustainable. 

"It comes back to sustainability and funding, right? That all needs to be looked at before anything. We need the data collected to be able to say to the funders 'this is what was going on and this is the need,' so I think anything's possible if you had the proper research, information and data, and funding to provide that." 

Through continued conversation and data collection, Walsh hopes to be able to utilize grants and increased funding to bring more solutions to the community. For now, the focus is on collecting data and working with other community groups on how to best allocate resources, but for the immediate future there are no set plans.

"We'll absolutely help people as much as we possibly can with the resources that we have here now. As far as anything else goes right now, we're just going to continue to do the best we can with what we have, but also look for opportunity on where we can do better."

Send your news tips, story ideas, pictures, and videos to