Calgary lays out extreme cold weather shelter, support plans as cold snap looms

Click to play video: 'City of Calgary says it’s prepared to help citizens deal with extreme cold'
City of Calgary says it’s prepared to help citizens deal with extreme cold
WATCH: Calgary is experiencing minus double-digit temperatures and it is only going to get worse in the next few days. As Meghan Cobb reports, the city is taking steps to help Calgarians cope with these chilly temperatures – Jan 10, 2024

A cold snap is set to rage across Calgary in the coming days, and the City of Calgary says it has a plan to keep vulnerable Calgarians safe during the extremely cold days ahead.

The city is uniting with the Calgary Homeless Foundation and other community partners to set up programs and services to support people through the grim conditions.

Environment and Climate Change Canada (ECCC) issued an extreme cold warning projecting a 30-degree temperature drop Wednesday night with wind chills around -40. In various areas this weekend, temperatures in the morning will plummet to -40C with wind chills around -50. Relief will arrive early next week with a minor improvement, but below-normal temperatures may persist.

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“Taking a compassion-first approach, our priority is to ensure that every Calgarian who needs a warm place to shelter during the upcoming cold weather has access to one,” said Kay Choi, community safety and well-being lead for the City of Calgary.

The Emergency Shelter Shuttle will offer a ride to anyone taking refuge along the LRT line to open shelter space. It will operate every day from 10:30 p.m. to 4 a.m. ending March 31.

“Staff from Alpha House, Transit Public Safety and Calgary Transit work together to connect with people sheltering along the LRT line and encourage access to available shelter space. Between December 1 and January 6 there were 824 transports from LRT stations to emergency shelters,” the city said in a statement Wednesday.

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City peace officers and outreach staff from Alpha House will be in various locations patrolling and checking on the condition of people sleeping outside in the cold.

“During the checks, they assess the welfare of those they encounter and offer resources as well as basic need items, including handwarmers, food hampers and socks. They also address unsafe situations, and as necessary, make contact with emergency responders. The goal is to get those sleeping rough the assistance they need, and working with our partners, into long-term housing solutions,” the city said.

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The Coordinated Community Extreme Weather Response will have 425 daytime warming spaces set up with nine organizations to provide health care, social support, employment coaching and permanent housing options.

“We know that the decision to access shelters is complex,” Choi said. “We do encourage Calgarians experiencing vulnerabilities to go to shelters to protect themselves from winter conditions, like frostbite, injury and potential loss of life. It is the safest option.”

On top of the warming spaces, during the day Calgary Public Library branches are open for anyone needing relief from the extreme cold.

ECCC warns frostbite can develop within minutes on exposed skin, and extreme cold poses substantial health risks to small children, elderly adults, those with chronic illness and people who stay outdoors for an extended period.

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The Salvation Army will be handing out food and hot beverages and providing shuttles to shelters starting at noon and ending at 6 p.m. The mobile warming stations will be located at two LRT stations. Parachute for Pets will give people with or without an animal a warm space to stay. Or you can board your pets overnight and the shelter will provide pet food, support, and supplies.

“According to the Government of Alberta there is capacity in the emergency shelter system. The City will continue to work closely with our provincial contacts and partners to monitor capacity during the colder temperatures,” Choi added.

“If you see somebody in distress, I encourage Calgarians to call our HELP team or 911,” she added.

You can reach the city’s HELP Team at 403-998-7388. Residents in Calgary are advised to monitor alerts and forecasts issued by Environment Canada and to report severe weather you may can email or tweet details using #ABStorm and keep pets indoors.

Click to play video: 'Calgary roads still slippery as snow warning comes to an end'
Calgary roads still slippery as snow warning comes to an end



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