A lengthy extreme cold warning that’s been in place for much of Alberta is expected to finally be lifted next week.
After extremely cold wind chill values between -40 and -45, Environment Canada forecasts the “prolonged cold snap” will end by Monday.
The City of Edmonton will be deactivating its extreme weather response on Wednesday, Feb. 17.
It was activated on Feb. 4 to provide two overnight bus routes to get people to shelters and out of the elements.
City officials say demand for the service increased steadily, with as many as 173 people using it on a given night.
“Our thanks to Edmonton Transit Service, peace officers, and outreach staff with our partner agencies who came together to ensure those experiencing homelessness have a safe and warm place to sleep during this extreme cold,” said Christel Kjenner, director of Affordable Housing and Homelessness.
“They all worked tirelessly through the nights to ensure that this life-saving work was implemented as smoothly and effectively as possible.”
The last night for the overnight bus service will be Tuesday, Feb. 16.
The final night of operation of shelter spaces opened by community partners at Trinity Lutheran Church and Al Rashid Mosque will also be Feb. 16.
However, more shelter beds have been added to Tipinawâw (Edmonton Convention Centre), Commonwealth Stadium and CESSCO warehouse.
Tipinawâw increased its capacity to 350 beds on Saturday and has been full since then. Scarlet Bjornson, spokesperson for Bissel Centre, says it will likely remain full until the extreme weather response ends.
“When people come in, they’re cold, they’re hungry,” Bjornson said. “Our main priority is to get them in, get them to intake, check in and see how they’re doing, then get them a meal and any other items they might require.
“Things are going as smoothly as they can,” she said.
The city believes the overall system has sufficient capacity to help anyone who needs emergency shelter.
If you see someone out in the cold and in extreme distress or there is an emergency, call 911.
Call 211 and press 3 for 24/7 Crisis Diversion non-emergency support for shelter, intoxication and mental health.