An extreme cold warning has been issued for Toronto. To help people trying to get out of the cold this weekend, Mayor Joh Tory has announced to open two additional 24/7 warming centres starting at 7 pm tonight.
City of Toronto has also deployed outreach workers and ambulances to check on those who refuse to move indoors.
The move comes after a barrage of criticism, and with temperatures set to take a dangerous plunge.
Also, city and federal officials said Thursday discussions to open the Moss Park Armoury as a temporary respite centre were going well, and they expected an announcement later in the day.
Tory said, “People will find a warm welcoming place to come in and get out of the cold to get a hot breakfast and we will have shelter staff and paramedics located at both of these additional sites.”
The extra outreach workers will try to convince people staying outside to move indoors, and keep checking on them if they refuse.
Paul Raftis, head of the city’s shelter support division, said “a couple of ambulances” will also patrol the downtown core looking for anyone in danger.
Tory also urged citizens who need to find shelter for themselves or for somebody else to call 311 or go in person to the Peter St. referral centre.He added that if anyone sees a homeless person in obvious danger, they should dial emergency services at 911.
The extra steps follow days of criticism aimed at Tory and city staff over the response to a prolonged cold snap and packed shelter system.
In dangerous cold, some city staff had told people who called a shelter support number there was no more space for homeless Torontonians, even as cots sat empty at a temporary respite centre at the Better Living Centre at Exhibition Place and other city sites.
Tory has called that mistake “indefensible.” Amid probes by senior city staff and Toronto’s ombudsman, he vowed Thursday that will not happen again.