To ensure that emergency heat relief is available and accessible to those who may need it this year, the City of Toronto has plans to support residents during warm weather, including opening seven Emergency Cooling Centres during the 2021 heat season — May 15 to September 30, when Environment and Climate Change Canada (ECCC) issues a Heat Warning for Toronto.
Emergency Cooling Centres provide air-conditioned resting spaces to the public The City’s Cooling Centre locations will help provide relief to residents, including those who live in apartment buildings that do not have air-conditioning. Landlords are required to post information on the closest Cooling Centre on their tenant notification board, as well as an air-conditioned space or shady area on their property that may be accessible to all tenants.
Landlords are also responsible for providing heat to a minimum air temperature of 21 degrees Celsius from September 15 to June 1; however, warm spring days can cause the temperature to rise above this without the heat on. This can make it uncomfortably hot for tenants. Landlords are encouraged to use their judgement and turn the heat off on warm spring days. For those that have air conditioning, it can be turned on June 2. More information is available
ECCC issues a Heat Warning when it forecasts two or more consecutive days with daytime maximum temperatures of 31°C or warmer, together with minimum nighttime temperatures of 20°C or warmer, or when there is a forecast of two or more consecutive days with humidex values expected to reach 40 or higher.
Extreme heat is associated with negative health impacts ranging from heat stress to heat stroke and death. During periods of hot weather, the safety of all residents is the priority.
In 2021, the Emergency Cooling Centres will operate at the following locations during Heat Warnings only, from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m., except Metro Hall, which will run 24 hours during Heat Warnings:
All City services will be delivered following ongoing COVID-19 protocols to ensure the safety of those using the Emergency Cooling Centres. This includes encouraging physical distancing, the mandatory use of masks, and hand washing. Staff who are trained to assist residents affected by the extreme heat will be on hand. Strict infection prevention and control measures will be in place to help prevent the spread of COVID-19.
The location of the Emergency Cooling Centres, along with other cool spaces available during the heat season, can be found in an interactive map . Residents can enter an intersection or address to find a location near them.
In addition to the Emergency Cooling Centres, during Heat Warnings two outreach teams (Streets to Homes and Fred Victor Keep Cool Project) will do additional wellness checks, advising people living outside of the open Emergency Cooling Centre locations, providing them with water, and recommending that if they stay outdoors, to move to a shaded area.
When a Heat Warning is declared, residents are asked to call 311 for heat-related inquiries or street outreach; 911 in case of an emergency.
The City’s Heat Relief Strategy was updated for the 2021 hot weather season, in response to COVID-19, to ensure that emergency heat relief opportunities are available and accessible to those who may need them. Many facilities that were part of the City’s 2019 Heat Relief Network of cool spaces across Toronto are closed due to COVID-19, as they were in 2020. For this reason, the City’s plan for heat relief this year has been modified and includes the Emergency Cooling Centres that will open across Toronto during Heat Warnings.
The City continues to monitor the COVID-19 situation and will adapt its emergency heat relief strategy as needed, while keeping people safe from COVID-19. As more public places are permitted to operate, the City will look to expand access to cool spaces through the Heat Relief Network, which may include libraries, community centres, pools, Civic Centres or other City facilities, and several private and non-profit organizations.
Information to help residents prepare for extreme weather and weatherproof their homes is available here
Air pollution often increases during hot weather conditions. People with heart and lung conditions, seniors and parents/guardians of young children should pay special attention to the hourly Air Quality Health Index levels and forecasts available here
Individuals are encouraged to download Environment and Climate Change Canada’s WeatherCAN app to stay up to date on heat warnings and special weather statements. Information on WeatherCAN can be found here
B-roll footage of Emergency Cooling Centres is available.
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