The city of Toronto opened four warming centres for unhoused people on Monday night ahead of a predicted drop in temperature.
In a news release, the city said it usually opens warming centres when its medical officer of health declares an extreme cold weather alert. That declaration comes after Environment Canada has forecast temperatures of –15 C or colder or wind chills of – 20 or colder for the following 24 hours in Toronto.
The temperatures are not expected to drop to that point overnight, the city noted, but it is opening the warming centres "out of an abundance of caution" due to an expected and sudden drop in temperature and wind chill values in the forecast.
"In addition to the Warming Centres, the City's Streets to Homes Program will dispatch additional 24/7 teams to connect with people living outside and encourage them to come indoors. Throughout the winter, outreach staff hand out blankets, sleeping bags and warm winter clothing," the city said.
The city said the opening of the warming centres means 150 more spaces for unhoused people.
There are COVID-19 public health measures in place at the centres, the city said. These measures include physical distancing, mandatory use of masks, hand washing, symptom screening and monitoring, enhanced cleaning, and transportation to isolation and recovery sites for people awaiting test results or who have tested positive for the novel coronavirus.
The centres, which opened at 7 p.m., provide a warm indoor place to rest and access to snacks, washrooms and referrals to emergency shelter, the city added.
The centres are located at:
129 Peter St.
5800 Yonge St.
Exhibition Place, Better Living Centre, 195 Princes' Blvd.
Scarborough Civic Centre, 150 Borough Dr.
Toronto was under a special weather statement due to strong winds on Monday night, but that statement ended at about 10:20 p.m. The winds caused scattered power outages in different parts of the city.