Extreme weather response activated
The City of Edmonton will activate its extreme weather response to help keep vulnerable Edmontonians safe during the cold weather expected in the coming days. The response will take effect on Saturday, March 4, 2023, at 9 a.m. and will end on Sunday, March 12, 2023, at 6 a.m. The response may be extended or shortened if weather conditions change during this timeframe.
The threshold for activating the City’s extreme weather response is a temperature of -20 degrees celsius with wind chill for at least three consecutive nights, taking into consideration shelter capacity and occupancy rates.
This activation includes the following components:
ETS Extreme Weather Bus Routes
Edmonton Transit Service is providing dedicated, overnight transportation on three routes between 10 p.m. and 6 a.m. to transport people to shelters with capacity.
Throughout the activation, ETS will continue its practice of stopping at all bus stops, including most express routes, to pick up anyone waiting when the weather is -20 degrees celsius and below with windchill.
Maps of the bus routes will be made available at edmonton.ca/extremeweather.
The Bissell Centre will continue to operate its Community Space seven days per week, 10 hours per day (9 a.m. – 7 p.m.). The Community Space functions as a service hub, where participants can access supports, including: laundry, showers, meals, Indigenous Cultural supports, mental health and housing supports.
Boyle Street Community Services will continue to operate its Community Centre seven days per week, 11 hours per day (8 a.m. – 7 p.m.). Services include housing supports, Indigenous cultural supports and showers. Additional space will be made available when the extreme weather response is activated.
Other sector initiatives
The City supports the Winter Warming Bus operated by Boyle Street Community Services, which provides food, winter clothing, blankets and transportation to warming centres and shelters.
The Encampment Response Team will conduct wellness checks and only address high risk encampments during activations to ensure the safety of people experiencing homelessness.
All Edmonton Public Library locations and recreation facilities will be open to the public for warming purposes during regular operating hours.
The City will not be opening LRT stations as part of the extreme weather response. LRT stations are not appropriate shelter space as they lack amenities such as heat and adequate washroom facilities.
Sector Emergency Response
The activation is part of the Sector Emergency Response, a collaboration between the City, Homeward Trust and more than 25 system and partner agencies working together to keep vulnerable citizens safe and warm every night. The response runs every year from November 1 to April 30 during winter conditions. The City and partners determine when it’s appropriate to activate the City’s extreme weather response considering weather conditions and existing capacity within community spaces for people experiencing homelessness to safely shelter.
In 2019, City Council approved a policy that formalizes and clarifies the City’s role in the system-wide response to supporting vulnerable Edmontonians during extreme weather conditions.
What People Can Do
Learn to recognize the signs of hypothermia: uncontrollable shivering, drowsiness or exhaustion, confusion, fumbling hands, memory loss, or slurred speech; and a person with severe hypothermia may be unconscious and may not seem to have a pulse or to be breathing.
Call 911 for someone in serious distress or in cases of emergency.
Call 211, press 3 for 24/7 Crisis Diversion non-emergency support for shelter, intoxication and mental health.
Our quick reference tool has steps you can take to help someone during the winter months.
Agencies serving people experiencing homelessness are accepting monetary donations, as well as donations of warm clothing and winter gear. For a list of places to donate, please see: https://homewardtrust.ca/sector-emergency-response/.