TORONTO – When the temperature drops in Toronto, the city opens warning centres.
Tonight at 7 p.m., the City of Toronto will open two Warming Centres to give those who are vulnerable and may be experiencing homelessness a safe indoor and warm place to rest and access snacks, washroom facilities and referrals to emergency shelter.
Space will be offered at the following locations:
• 5800 Yonge Street
• Exhibition Place, Better Living Centre, 195 Princes’ Boulevard
Warming Centres are generally activated when the City, in consultation with the Medical Officer of Health, issues an Extreme Cold Weather Alert (ECWA) based on a forecast from Environment and Climate Change Canada of minus 15 degrees Celsius or colder.
While the temperature forecast is not expected to reach this threshold, the City is activating the Warming Centres tonight in an abundance of caution due to colder nighttime temperatures.
In addition to the Warming Centres, the City’s Streets to Homes outreach team will dispatch additional 24/7 teams to connect with people living outside and encourage them to come indoors. Staff will also hand out blankets and sleeping bags.
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 COVID-19 protocols to ensure the safety of those using the centres. This includes ensuring physical distancing of resting spaces, encouraging physical distancing in all areas of the facility, the mandatory use of masks, ensuring hand washing, conducting symptom screening and monitoring, increasing infection control and prevention measures such as enhanced cleaning, and providing transportation to isolation and recovery sites for individuals that await results or test positive.
The Warming Centre spaces are being opened as part of the City’s 2020/2021 winter services plan to help those experiencing homelessness.
In addition to Warming Centre capacity, through the winter plan, the City is opening more than 680 additional spaces through a combination of shelter and 24-hour respite beds, hotel rooms and housing units with supports. This is on top of the City’s base shelter system, which provides more than 6,000 spaces for those experiencing homelessness each night.
The winter plan will be in effect until April 2021. The need for services will be monitored and the City will adapt as required to respond to changing circumstances.
To learn more about the winter plan, visit www.toronto.ca/community-people/housing-shelter/homeless-help/winter-services-plan-for-people-experiencing-homelessness/.