Unseasonably cold weather with wind chills of up to -28 C caught many off guard in Montreal, including shelters.
The record-breaking temperatures during the month of November prompted an influx of clients at the Old Brewery Mission on Thursday.
“When it gets cold outside it gets hot inside,” Old Brewery Mission CEO and president Matthew Pearce said.
The mission was not prepared for the influx of clients seeking refuge from the cold Wednesday night.
“We were all systems go for Dec.1, but now we have to backpedal and scramble to get things in place to deal with this cold,” Pearce said.
The winter protocol was rushed into place Thursday when 20 extra beds were set up for the additional clients.
The mission also opened its cafeteria during the night for people stay warm although they will not be allowed to sleep there.
The shuttle service is also now operational. It helps transport and pick up the homeless to bring them to shelters around Montreal.
Winter clothing donations needed
The early launch of the winter protocol has put strain on the organization’s purse strings.
“Extra cost, extra people coming in early, it’s not in our budget so we’re going to have to find a way to afford that,” Pearce said.
The mercury dropped to -17.8 C early Thursday morning which marks a new record, according to Environment Canada meteorologist Alexandre Parent.
He said it shattered the previous record of -14 C set in 1972.
“We’re about 13 to 14 degrees colder than the temperature Montrealers are usually experiencing in November,” Parent said.
While the unseasonably frigid weather will be short lived, community workers are bracing for what could be a long, hard winter.
“We’re very concerned with what’s going to be coming forward as we head into the deeper parts of winter when we’re already bursting,” Pearce said.
Pearce said many of the shelters occupants were also unprepared for the early taste of winter.
“We got homeless people without tuques, without gloves and without proper coats,” Pearce said.
Pearce added during the winter months, the shelter is always in need of winter clothing donations.
“We always need boots ,coats, gloves,” Pearce said.
Montrealers can drop off donations at the Old Brewery Mission shelter’s front door or send funds through the organization’s website.