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Calgary businesses light up sky to honour shelter, agency staff amid COVID-19 pandemic

The Calgary Tower reflected on office building windows in downtown Calgary, Alberta on Dec. 22, 2014. THE CANADIAN PRESS IMAGES/Larry MacDougal

Several businesses in and around downtown Calgary will be displaying orange lights on Thursday evening, showing their appreciation for shelter and agency staff keeping the homeless population safe amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

Twelve organizations will be participating, including the Calgary Tower, Telus Spark Centre, Glenbow Museum and the Southern Alberta Jubilee Auditorium.

READ MORE: More people at Calgary homeless shelters test positive for COVID-19

Calgary Emergency Management Agency chief Tom Sampson said the city organized the initiative to show appreciation to the continuous hard work that these front-line workers have shown throughout the pandemic.

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“Since the onset of the pandemic, we have seen tremendous efforts put forward from groups and organizations all over Calgary to help prevent the spread of COVID-19,” Sampson said in a news release on Thursday.

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“The staff at our local shelters and other agency partners are working with a truly unique set of challenges.

“I would like to say thank you from the bottom of my heart for the work they are doing to keep one of Calgary’s most vulnerable populations safe.”

READ MORE: Coronavirus: Calgary reducing numbers in homeless shelters; relocating to hotels

In order to comply with physical distancing regulations, shelter and agency staff have relocated more than 400 homeless Calgarians to temporary shelter locations and permanent housing in the city.

“Tonight’s small gesture across the city is just a token of the enormous thanks all of us owe the heroes working in our shelters and agencies,” Calgary Mayor Naheed Nenshi said.

READ MORE: Calgary TELUS Convention Centre to serve as emergency shelter amid COVID-19 crisis

Over the last few weeks, several people staying at homeless shelters in Calgary have tested positive for COVID-19 and have been transferred to isolation facilities.

Officials suspect more cases may evolve in Calgary’s homeless population, but hope these isolation facilities and increased testing methods will help stop any outbreaks in Calgary’s shelters.

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