FORT ST. JOHN, B.C. -- Winters in the Peace Region can be harsh at times. With temperatures dropping below zero constantly, the vulnerable are in extra danger from the elements. Since the beginning of January, the new Fort St John warming centre, located at 10067 100th Avenue, is giving people a break from Mother Nature.

Rosena Joby, a staff member at the centre, spoke of some of the things visitors can do while there.

"We offer them coffee throughout the day and any snacks. They can come here, sit, do puzzles, read books and chat with staff which is lovely."

The centre also provides laundry, beds, and showers for those that need them. The City of Fort St John got the ball rolling with help from Ottawa and the Province via the “Strengthening Community Services Fund”. With funding in place, Urban Matters and other non-profits saw the project to completion.

Julianne Kucheran, Social and Health Community Planner for Urban Matters, says the centre is a tool meant to be utilized with other services offered in the city.

"Really, it’s not meant to replace anything or be a stand alone. It’s really meant to work in conjunction with all the other great services that are in the community. All other the great work the Salvation Army is doing with their shelter, and the Friendship Society, and the Women’s Resource Society, and the Community Bridge. It’s really meant to compliment those already existing services.

The facility is meant to be temporary and last until temperatures warm up in the late spring. Fort St. John residents and business owners have been quick to offer donations. The space has received a good reception and is leaving a lasting impression, not only on those using it but also those working there like Eugene Hasiuk, Warming Centre Manager.

"They come in kind of upset or unhappy and they leave with a smile. They get to talk somewhere safe and we don't judge them for coming in here, their circumstances. That’s a good feeling."

The warming centre is open 7 days a week from 8am to 5pm. As for overnight shelter, that's being offered at the Northern Centre of Hope (9824 - 99 Ave).