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Mayor asks for warming centres to open after man found dead overnight

WATCH ABOVE: The city’s homeless are most at risk when it comes to sub-zero temperatures and the current deep freeze is already being blamed for two deaths in Toronto.
Marianne Dimain reports.

TORONTO – John Tory has ordered the opening of the city’s warming centres despite no extreme cold weather alert being issued after a man died early Tuesday morning after being found outdoors in downtown Toronto.

Police say the man was located near Yonge-Dundas Square and was taken to St. Michael’s Hospital where he was pronounced dead.

Toronto EMS say the man, believed to be in his 40s, was found just after 5 a.m. inside a bus shelter wearing only jeans and a t-shirt.

Police at the scene say the freezing temperatures may have played a role in his death.

Authorities also say the man is known to police and at times has been homeless.

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As of 6 a.m. Tuesday, the city had yet to declare an Extreme Cold Weather Alert which opens up additional warming centres and services for those who are most vulnerable.

READ MORE:  Activists demand more shelter beds after man dies on street

The mayor’s office announced Tory had asked for the centres to be opened regardless shortly after 2 p.m. Tuesday.

The city’s medical officer of health issues the alerts when Environment Canada forecasts that overnight temperatures will reach -15 degrees Celsius or colder.

“My understanding was the temperature was to go to -15 or thereabout tonight and that would be a night in which you would see those criteria likely being met but again you’ll have to ask the chief medical officer about that,” said Toronto Mayor John Tory when questioned on the death Tuesday morning at city hall.

“There are very clear guidelines in place with respect to temperature, also with discretion that he’s given including wind chill to make that declaration he sees fit.”

According to Environment Canada, the overnight low is expected to reach -17 degrees Celsius Tuesday evening and into early Wednesday, making it the coldest day of the week.

Toronto Public Health says there are an estimated 100 cold related deaths in the city every year.

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A number of measures are put in place when an Extreme Cold Weather Alert is declared such as the opening of additional 24-hour drop-in centres, relaxing service restrictions for shelters, increased street outreach support, as well as free transit tokens for people to reach shelters.

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