City supports community plan for people in cold weather

Update: The Commonwealth Recreation Centre welcomed and sheltered 99 individuals the evening of Jan. 13.

With overnight lows plummeting, Edmonton’s extreme weather protocol has been activated.

“What we’ve been focused on in our community is to ensure that during any 24-hour period, there’s a safe place for individuals to go,” said Susan McGee, CEO of Homeward Trust.

[Susan McGee, CEO of Homeward Trust]

For the City of Edmonton, which is one of 25 members of the Homeward Trust-led Winter Emergency Response Committee, the activation means the Commonwealth Community Recreation Centre will be made available for overnight stays beginning January 9 between 10 p.m. and 7 a.m. Individuals are encouraged to seek shelter at existing facilities first.

“This year we began planning work around a shelter earlier and so in the summer we started looking at all of the City facilities that could be made available for emergency shelter during extreme temperatures,” said Christel Kjenner, Director of Housing and Homelessness for the City of Edmonton.

“In addition to being centrally located, near an LRT station and a central bus station, it’s heated and it also has hygiene facilities, like public washrooms and showers that can be made available to overnight shelter stayers.”

[Christel Kjenner, Director of Housing and Homelessness for the City of Edmonton]

Up to 36 people can be accommodated in change rooms next to the recreation centre fieldhouse, with space for more people in the fieldhouse if needed. Storage boxes will be provided for people staying in the shelter at night.

Individuals staying overnight will have access to the change rooms and fieldhouse only, not the rest of the facility.

The overnight space will be supported by community partners who will help connect the individuals staying at the shelter space to housing and support services. There will also be security monitoring onsite to ensure the safety of those staying overnight.

In the past, LRT stations have been opened to protect vulnerable people during the cold, but will not be open for shelter this year.

Read more about the extreme weather protocol.