Tonight at 7 p.m., the City of Toronto will open its four Warming Centres to give those who are vulnerable and may be experiencing homelessness a safe, warm indoor place to rest and access snacks, washroom facilities and referrals to emergency shelter.
The City’s four Warming Centres are located at:
Warming Centres will activate approximately 150 spaces, in addition to the 200 new spaces created through the City’s 2021/2022 Winter Services Plan. Over the past five years, the City has continuously added and maintained new capacity in the shelter system. As a result, the number of beds currently available for single individuals and couples experiencing homelessness is at a five-year high.
Warming Centres are generally activated when the City’s Medical Officer of Health issues an Extreme Cold Weather Alert (ECWA) based on a forecast from Environment and Climate Change Canada of -15 degrees Celsius or colder, or when the wind chill is forecast to reach -20 degrees Celsius or colder, for the proceeding 24 hours or longer.
While forecasted temperatures are not expected to reach the threshold to warrant an ECWA, the City is activating Warming Centres tonight out of an abundance of caution due to the sudden, significant drop in temperature and wind chill values forecasted for this evening.
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 hands out blankets, sleeping bags and warm winter clothing.
Residents should contact 311 if they see a person experiencing homelessness in need of assistance and the City will dispatch an outreach team to investigate. If the person is in distress or needs immediate assistance, call 911.
All services at the Warming Centres will be delivered following ongoing public health recommendations regarding COVID-19 protocols to ensure the safety of those using the centres. These measures include physical distancing, the mandatory use of masks, hand washing, conducting symptom screening and monitoring, enhanced cleaning procedures, and providing transportation to isolation and recovery sites for individuals that await results or test positive.
Media tours of Warming Centres are not available due to COVID-19 restrictions. For photos and B-roll of a Warming Centre, visit the Media Room on the City’s website.
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