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Toronto opens a fourth warming centre following extreme cold weather alert

A woman walks in downtown Toronto on Jan. 7, 2015. (Frank Gunn / The Canadian Press) A woman walks in downtown Toronto on Jan. 7, 2015. (Frank Gunn / The Canadian Press)

Toronto opened its three warming centres Monday night and announced the opening of a fourth earlier in the day, following the issuance of an extreme cold weather alert.

The city’s fourth warming centre is now open and is located at Cecil Community Centre, 58 Cecil Street, near Spadina Avenue and College Street.

“Since announcing the Winter Services Plan in November, city staff have continued to explore opportunities to secure additional sites to maximize spaces available for those in need. Working with community partners, the city was able to confirm the fourth warming centre location at Cecil Community Centre,” the city says on its website.

“Located next to Kensington Market, Cecil Community Centre is a non-profit, multi-service neighbourhood centre offering services to local residents. The warming centre will open [Monday night] at 7 p.m. and will be equipped to welcome up to 30 people in need of a safe, warm place to rest.”

The additional 30 spaces now brings Toronto’s total warming centre capacity to 142, with a downtown capacity of 75.

Dr. Eileen De Villa, the city’s Medical Officer of Health, issued the extreme cold weather alert based on today’s weather forecast, which called for a low of minus 11 Celsius tonight that could feel like minus 17 C with the wind chill.

Extreme weather alerts are usually called when temperatures are forecasted to be minus 15 C or colder or when the wind chill is forecast to reach minus 20 C or colder for the next 24 hours or longer.

“Other factors may also be considered, such as predicted precipitation, low daytime temperatures, sudden drops in temperature, and consecutive days and nights of colder temperatures,” the city said in a news release.

This alert is in effect until further notice.

The city’s other three emergency warming centres also opened at 7 p.m. They are located at Metro Hall at 55 John St., Scarborough Civic Centre at 150 Borough Dr., and Mitchell Field Community Centre at 89 Church Ave. in North York.

Vulnerable individuals as well as those experiencing homelessness are welcome to visit a warming centre, which provides people with a warm, safe indoor place to rest and access snacks, washroom facilities and referrals to emergency shelter.

All four warming centres are available by walk-in.

The City of Toronto is asking residents to call 311 if they see an unhoused person who may need street outreach assistance, or 911 if it’s an emergency.

People are being urged to check the weather before going outside, dress in layers, wear a hat, warm mitten or gloves and warm boots. The city recommends choosing wool or synthetic fabrics instead of cotton, seeking shelter if an individual normally spends long periods of time outside, drinking warm fluids, and considering rescheduling activities or limiting time outdoors. Keeping the temperature above 21 degrees Celsius and checking in on vulnerable friends, neighbours, and relatives is also suggested.

Visit the city’s Homeless Help web page for more information about services for homeless and under-housed individuals. Top Stories

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