In 2021, after 21 years, the Smithers Salvation army retail store closed its doors. Community members waited to see what the space would be used for, and in the summer of 2022, doors opened for a fully renovated Food Bank and Kitchen.
According to the homelessness count conducted by BC Housing in 2021, there are 33 people who experience homelessness in Smithers. In the year since that count was conducted, Smithers has seen an uptick in people who are sheltered in the town-sanctioned camp site in Veterans Park (a green space between the town hall and Library).
CICK News has connected with people in that population and can attest that there are more than 30 people who use the shelter (either full time or as needs require).
Across the street from the camp is where the Salvation Army Food Bank and Kitchen is located: the building is bright and clean with a massive food safe kitchen, food and clothing bank, as well as offices for the staff who work there.
Lt. Rick Apperson is the director of the Smithers Salvation Army branch (along with the Hazelton and Houston branch) who spoke with CICK about the new building and the function of the Salvation Army for Smithers' homeless population as well as those who are living with "invisible poverty."
Click on the audio link below to hear that interview: