Shadow Lines provides a ray of hope

LANGLEY, B.C. — One of Rob Reid’s latest investments isn’t going to make Shadow Lines Transportation any money, but it’ll help him sleep better at night, along with countless others.

Back in the spring, Reid, president of the Langley, B.C.-based carrier, had an idea to help the homeless population in Metro Vancouver survive the cold of winter and the project is just about ready to hit the streets.

Shadow Lines transformed a typical, used sea container into a Temporary Homeless Relief Shelter that can be transported every night to and from locations where people are known to sleep on the street.

“I’ve always wanted to do something for the homeless or needy. I spend a lot of time in downtown Vancouver where there are lots of homeless people,” says Reid. “There are a lot of issues with them getting beat up, and this will give them a warm, safe place to sleep.”

Work on the refurbished container began in September and it was divided into eight individually heated and lighted units, along with a toilet (no shower) and small office. One unit and the toilet have been made wheelchair accessible.


Shadow Lines’ Temporary Homeless Relief Shelter
will hit the street this winter in Vancouver.

Each unit has two foldaway bunks, which allows individuals to park their shopping carts inside the unit and sleep on the top bunk. In extreme weather, however, having two bunks in each unit will allow the shelter to sleep 16.

“A lot of them won’t go where they can’t take their shopping carts, which is why we made space for that,” notes Reid. “Also, lots of them have issues and don’t want to sleep in a room with 20 other people. It’s a good, warm, dry place for the homeless to sleep at night.”

As well as building the Temporary Homeless Relief Shelter, Shadow Lines’ commitment to the project will involve bringing it to a specified location each night and set it up, which takes about 30 – 45 minutes. The carrier will then return in the morning, pick up the trailer and bring it back to the terminal to have the batteries charged, get cleaned out and disinfect the rooms.

The foldaway bunks in each unit will
sleep one person and a cart, or two people.

During the night, operation of the shelter will be organized by Nightshift Street Ministries.

“When we drop it off, we’ll work hand-in-hand with a non-profit organization,” explains Reid. “They will run the unit through the winter months, and man it with experienced volunteers to monitor the people using it and who comes in and out.”

Investment in the project has cost Reid about $100,000 so far. All the work constructing the container was done in-house by Shadow Line employees, except for installing diesel heaters, security alarms, and CO2 detectors.

A major cost of the project was purchasing a truck to transport the Temporary Homeless Relief Shelter. A cabover with a long wheelbase was purchased in California and outfitted with a 30,000-lb winch to tow the shelter. As well, space was made on the wheelbase for a pump out station for the toilet, a pressure washer, and extra mattresses.

Cost of building the container alone would be about $30,000, and if he could find the right people to operate additional Temporary Homeless Relief Shelters, Reid would gladly build more.

Ideally, he’d like to build one for Calgary, one for Edmonton, and have three in operation in Vancouver. Although at this point, adding one more in Vancouver would be the only reality for this winter. The rest would have to wait until next year.

Then there’s the $10,000 a month bill to service the shelter. None of the costs will be recouped by Reid or the company, but it’s not a concern of the president.

“It’s a way to put something back into the areas that have treated me so well,” he says. “We’re hoping people in other cities will look at this and say, ‘We could do that too.’”

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