extreme cold weather alert

Toronto just got hit with yet another extreme cold weather alert

Toronto is in for a brutal chill to close out the workweek, a frigid blast of winter weather predicted to plunge temperatures well into the negative double digits triggering the city to issue an Extreme Cold Weather Alert (ECWA) Friday morning.

Environment and Climate Change Canada's forecast predicts wind chill factors will have it feeling like -18 C Friday afternoon, with actual temperatures to plummet as low as -19 C by nightfall.

Any day where temperatures are forecasted to reach -15 C and/or with wind chill factors of -20 C automatically triggers Toronto's Medical Officer of Health to issue an ECWA, which in turn activates the city's emergency warming centres.

Four of these warming centres will open their doors to the vulnerable at 7 p.m., and will remain open until noon on the day the ECWA is terminated. Though with temperatures expected to stay in the negative double digits into Saturday, it's expected that these warming centres could keep their doors open until at least Sunday.

Three previously-used warming centres will be open at 129 Peter St., 5800 Yonge St., and the Better Living Centre at Exhibition Place. The Scarborough Civic Centre typically serves the east end of the city, but due to construction, this has been replaced by a new warming centre activated at 1684 Queen St. E.

Each of these warming centres holds space for approximately 165, while another 325 spaces have been created to address an over-capacity shelter system, with the number of shelter beds for those experiencing homelessness in the city currently at a five-year high.

Not everyone takes advantage of these warming centres, and Streets to Homes outreach teams will be out in the streets encouraging people living outdoors to seek shelter, as well as handing out warm clothes, blankets and sleeping bags.

Even with this influx of beds and street outreach programs, the city is facing criticism for its continued removal of homeless encampments, as well as the limited availability and rigid schedules of these emergency warming centres.

After a relatively mild start to the winter, Toronto has been battered with waves of arctic temperatures, triggering several ECWAs in just the first two weeks of 2022.

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