A portion of Commonwealth rec centre will be available as an emergency overnight shelter Thursday due to the extreme cold weather.
Temperatures are forecast to dip to -28 C overnight — feeling like -37 with the windchill. The cold snap is expected to continue for about a week.
The city said change rooms next to the Commonwealth Field House will be open and can provide shelter for up to 36 people between 10 p.m. and 7 a.m. Additional space in the Field House will be made available if needed.
Individuals staying overnight will have access to the change rooms and field house only, not the rest of the facility.
This facility is meant for those who may have challenges accessing traditional shelters, the city said in a news release. Individuals are encouraged to seek shelter at existing facilities first. Click here to see a list of Edmonton shelters.
“The benefit of Commonwealth rec centre is that it is centrally located and will provide individuals access to basics such as showers and washroom facilities,” said Christel Kjenner, the city’s director of housing and homelessness.
Overnight shelter space at Commonwealth will be made available as long as it’s needed and the city will provide three days’ notice before it’s closed.
The city, along with Homeward Trust, said Tuesday that the rec centre space would be an option in their extreme weather response plan. Its use would be determined by weather conditions and capacity at other shelters.
The extreme weather protocol was activated on Thursday after consultation with Homeward Trust and reviewing the conditions.
The Boyle Street Winter Warming bus has extended its hours to take people to Commonwealth between 9 p.m. and 11 p.m. Edmonton Transit System will also run a dedicated bus between shelters and drop-in centres to Commonwealth between 11 p.m. and 7 a.m.
Kjenner said all city rec centres, as well as libraries, are places people can always seek refuge during very cold snaps. Edmonton Transit and shelters operate warming buses and express bus routes will make more frequent stops when temperatures dip to -20 C.
Al Rashid Mosque, in partnership with The Mustard Seed Edmonton, is opening its doors for anyone needing shelter from the extreme cold overnight.
The mosque, located at 13070-113 Street, will be open from 7 p.m. to 8 a.m. “as long as temperatures remain low.” Hot meals, shelter and basic necessities will also be offered.
If you notice someone in serious distress outside on Edmonton’s streets, call 911 or 211 for non-emergency support for vulnerable individuals.