NEWS

Northern B.C. shelter fills up as oil industry crashes

03/27/2015 01:56 EDT | Updated 05/27/2015 05:59 EDT
The recent economic downturn in the Alberta oil industry has had a local homeless shelter and Food Bank in northeast B.C. scrambling to help oil patch workers who can't find jobs.

Salvation Army Captain Debbie Vanderheyden said the Northern Centre for Hope in Fort St. John is running at capacity, with its last beds filled up by people who would normally work for oil companies or do support work such as welding. The local food bank has also seen more visitors.

"With the downturn in the oil industry, and the fact that it's winter, this has just absolutely used up all the space we have," said Vanderheyden in an interview with Daybreak North.

The Northern Centre for Hope opened last year. It has 64 beds, with 36 being used for drop-in residents and the rest for long-term residents.

Vanderheyden expected a trickle-down effect when oil prices began to crash last year.

Fort St. John frequently sees an influx of out-of-town workers seeking employment in the oil fields, and it's not uncommon for some to stay at the shelter briefly as they wait for work.

"What we're seeing right now is that they're not securing the employment, so they're not able to move forward and get the tickets that they need to go to work," Vanderheyden said.

While the oil and gas industry isn't expected to bounce back anytime soon, Vanderheyden said she's hopeful those who wanted to work at the oil patch may find employment elsewhere.

To hear the full interview, click on the audio labelled: B.C. shelter fills up as oil industry declines. 

MORE:cbcNews