An emergency homeless shelter that allows pets and even shopping carts has opened in Vancouver, the city announced yesterday.

The shelter, a converted city-owned warehouse near the Main Street SkyTrain station, opened Monday night following fast-tracked repairs and health and safety inspections.

It features a kennel and a large chain-link cage that allows people to lock up their shopping carts.

“It’s a no-barrier shelter,” said Mayor Gregor Robertson, following a tour of the building. “People can bring carts and pets … Really, we’re just encouraging people to come in from the cold and get a warm and dry place to sleep.”

The building, which Robertson said was a “total wreck” a month ago, is the fourth emergency shelter to open in Vancouver this winter as part of the city’s efforts to get people off the streets at night during the cold weather.

Others have opened at First United Church, 1435 Granville St. and the Stanley New Fountain.
On Monday night, 21 people stayed at the shelter, but Robertson said he expected the space to fill to capacity, about 100 people, in the coming nights.