Homeless urged inside as mercury falls
As the temperature plummets along B.C.'s South Coast, the mayor of Vancouver is urging homeless people to find shelter and is appealing to the public to donate warm clothing.
The city has opened its extreme weather shelters and says it will add more space as the city experiences temperatures of -8 overnight and staying below zero through the weekend.
More than 100 extra shelter spaces are being made available.
Mayor Gregor Robertson says temporary homeless shelters are full and people sleeping on the streets are at a potential serious risk during the arctic chills.
"We are asking residents to keep an eye out for people outside who may be in distress, as well as to check on elderly neighbours who may need assistance. If someone appears to be experiencing difficulty, do not hesitate to call 911," Robertson said.
The city says it is working with community groups to ensure no one who needs shelter is turned away.
Irene Jackson of the Extreme Weather Response Program says community groups are dispatching outreach teams across the city to bring people in from the cold.
"They literally pound the pavement and go into parks where they know homeless people live and tell them the conditions are very cold, and the temperatures are dangerously low, and the location of different shelters people can access," she said.
Robertson says there is a growing demand for basic necessities including:
- Scarves and toques
Donations can be dropped off to the Gathering Place at 609 Helmcken Street from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. or placed in the red Sox in the City bin in the lobby of City Hall.