Thunder Bay Needs Better Planning for Extreme Cold

Cold Weather
Cold Weather Alert

Cold Weather

Solid Planning for Extreme Cold

THUNDER BAY – CIVIC – The City of Thunder Bay could look to the City of North Bay for guidance on how to handle cold weather. While many cities in Ontario, including Toronto and North Bay, have programs in place for periods of extreme cold, Thunder Bay does not.

In North Bay, the program has been in place for years. It started at -30c, and has been amended since then to take place at -25c.

The program is run by community groups.

The evidence is strong that the issue of homelessness is a lot bigger than many think
The evidence is strong that the issue of homelessness is a lot bigger than many think it is in Thunder Bay

When a cold alert is proclaimed, those groups come together to open warming stations in local churches, and other facilities.

During the latest cold stretch in North Bay the Cold Alert came into play.

“Community groups have come together to create a warming station at St John’s Church located at 301 Main East. For individuals with no shelter, this location will provide a sleeping area with food.

“If there is any individual requiring shelter, they will be accommodated. The centre is a place for those who don’t have shelter or don’t have adequate heat in their home to go and be safe and warm. Cots and linens will be available for those who need somewhere warm to sleep. The warming centre opens at 7pm.”

Toronto declares Extreme Cold Alerts at temperatures that many in Thunder Bay might scoff at.

However Toronto has a very solid strategy in place. Even with that strategy, several people were found dead outside during the latest cold snap in the city.

Toronto Cold Alert Policy

Services to help people get and keep permanent housing
Year round, the City funds services throughout Toronto for people who are homeless, including emergency shelters, drop-in centres, 24-hour street respite, housing help, and 24-hour street outreach and assistance to find and keep permanent housing.

More services during extreme cold weather
During an Extreme Cold Weather Alert, the attention of service providers focuses on helping homeless people to get off the street and into shelter or street respite. It is dangerous for anyone to remain outdoors when the temperature plummets, and if you are homeless, you have fewer options. Outreach workers, drop in centres, and emergency shelters work together to make sure homeless people have warm and safe places to stay. 

You can help
Call 311 if you see someone on the street who needs outreach assistance. 311 operators will contact outreach workers for follow-up as soon as possible. In an emergency, always call 911.

Extreme Cold Weather Alerts are called by Toronto Public Health.
See Toronto Public Health’s information about extreme cold weather alerts and Cold Weather Plan (PDF).

Additional cold weather services triggered by an alert include:

  • Two 24-hour extreme cold weather alert drop-ins are opened by 3 pm on the day an alert is called.
  • Shelters are directed to relax any service restrictions they may have.
  • Increased street outreach and transportation services. Focus is on informing clients about the danger of weather conditions and transporting them to indoor locations.
  • More than 100 organizations and agencies that work with homeless people are advised to prepare for increased service demands.
  • Transit tokens are made available in many drop-ins so people can reach shelters.
  • Additional shelter spaces are opened for men and women.
Previous articleThunderwolves Men “Dispatched in Raven’s Nest”
Next articleIllegal Moose Hunt Results in Fines for Three Men or NNL offers news, information, opinions and positive ideas for Thunder Bay, Ontario, Northwestern Ontario and the world. NNL covers a large region of Ontario, but are also widely read around the country and the world. To reach us by email: Reach the Newsroom: (807) 355-1862