Advertisement

Edmonton activates extreme weather response Tuesday

Click to play video: 'City of Edmonton speeds up shelter opening following its extreme weather activation response' City of Edmonton speeds up shelter opening following its extreme weather activation response
WATCH ABOVE: (From Dec. 15, 2021) First Edmonton dealt with freezing rain, then a dumping of snow and now it's extremely cold temperatures. As Chris Chacon reports, the cold has prompted the city to speed up some of its plans for the most vulnerable – Dec 15, 2021

The City of Edmonton activated its extreme weather response Tuesday to keep vulnerable people safe ahead of a stretch of expected cold weather.

Read more: Phase 1 parking ban to come into effect in Edmonton Tuesday evening after overnight snowfall

This activation includes a temporary expansion of emergency shelter space during the extreme cold and dedicated ETS bus routes to transport people from transit centres and other critical locations to shelters between 10 p.m. and 5 a.m.

Read more: Number of homeless Edmontonians has doubled; city facing lack of shelter space this winter

“Throughout the activation, Edmonton Transit Service will continue its practice of picking up passengers at most stops when the weather is -20 C and below with wind chill,” the city said in a news release Tuesday.

Story continues below advertisement
Click to play video: 'Edmonton weather forecast: Dec. 14, 2021' Edmonton weather forecast: Dec. 14, 2021
Edmonton weather forecast: Dec. 14, 2021 – Dec 14, 2021

It’s supposed to be a very cold week in Edmonton. Global Edmonton weather specialist Mike Sobel’s weather forecast calls for a high of -15 C on Tuesday, followed by highs of -19 C Wednesday, -18 C Thursday and -20 C Friday. Overnight lows could dip to -27 C by Friday.

Want your weather on the go? Download the Global News Skytracker weather app.

The activation of the extreme weather response is expected to run until Dec. 31.

Click to play video: 'Edmonton facing shelter space shortage as winter approaches' Edmonton facing shelter space shortage as winter approaches
Edmonton facing shelter space shortage as winter approaches – Nov 16, 2021

In terms of day shelter space, Boyle Street Community Services and Bissel Centre will increase capacity. In terms of overnight shelter, the 150-bed shelter at Commonwealth will expand capacity to 200. The shelter will operate until March 31, 2022.

Story continues below advertisement

A temporary shelter on the west side of Commonwealth Stadium (operated by The Mustard Seed) had a target opening date of Dec. 20 as of Tuesday, but the city said teams were “working to open earlier if possible.”

On Wednesday, the city said it would be opening on Dec. 16.

“Commonwealth will be opening soon,” Mayor Amarjeet Sohi said Wednesday. “I wish it had been open faster.

“We need long-term solutions. In the meantime we try to fill those gaps and we do our best to fill those gaps.”

Christel Kjenner, the city’s director of affordable housing and homelessness, said a lot of work goes into opening an emergency shelter.

“Labour shortages and other challenges caused by the pandemic have made it a little more difficult than previous years,” Kjenner said.

According to the city, the number of Edmontonians without a permanent home has doubled since the pandemic began, rising from about 1,300 people in 2019 to 2,900 today.

“The weather really affects my whole health,” said Audrey Waskahat, who lives without a home and uses shelter services. “During the night, it’s… colder than this… I wish the cold would end for a while.”

“It’s crazy cold out here and we’re concerned for our community members,” said the Hope Mission’s Lauren Reid. “We’re concerned that they may experience frostbite or hypothermia.”

Story continues below advertisement

Read more: Edmonton’s Al Rashid Mosque opens doors to homeless amid cold snap

Al Rashid mosque, located at 13070 113 Street, has also opened its doors to provide overnight shelter during the extreme cold.

“As part of the Winter Emergency Response with the City of Edmonton and Homeward Trust, Edmonton Transit has scheduled Al Rashid on the route and is, therefore, able to transport individuals to our centre all night until Dec. 31, 2021,” mosque organizers said in an email.

Al Rashid has hosted more than 300 people faced with homelessness over the past three years.

Al Rashid is also accepting donations of bottled water, wrapped snacks and disinfecting wipes.

Click to play video: 'Provincial government commits millions of dollars to sheltering homeless Albertans' Provincial government commits millions of dollars to sheltering homeless Albertans
Provincial government commits millions of dollars to sheltering homeless Albertans – Nov 17, 2021

The city makes the decision to activate an extreme weather response in consultation with the Sector Emergency Response, a collaboration between the city, Homeward Trust and more than 25 other agencies.

Story continues below advertisement

Environment Canada’s weather forecast and the current capacity within Edmonton’s emergency shelter system were also taken into consideration, the city explained.

If you are concerned about someone outside in the extreme cold, call 911 (for someone in serious distress or in cases of emergency) or call 211, press 3 for 24/7 Crisis Diversion (for non-emergency support for shelter, intoxication and mental health).

–With files from Phil Heidenreich, Global News

Click to play video: 'Edmonton activates extreme weather response as -30 temperatures move in' Edmonton activates extreme weather response as -30 temperatures move in
Edmonton activates extreme weather response as -30 temperatures move in – Feb 4, 2021

Sponsored content