In from the cold - Metro US

In from the cold

Bundle up, the first cold snap of the winter is going to last for a few more days.

Environment Canada is forecasting lows to hover below -20 C for the weekend. It’s going to warm up a little bit at the start of next week, but warning preparedness meteorologist for Environment Canada Peter Kimbell said the cold weather is likely to persist for a while longer.

Until this week, the winter temperatures had been above normal, said Kimbell, so we were due for a cold snap.

“It’s really par for the course this time of year,” he said.

The average December in Ottawa has four sub -20 C days, said Kimbell, but Wednesday night was the first time this season that the temperature dropped below -20 C.

The cold snap meant the shelters in Ottawa were swamped with homeless people attempting to escape the cold.

For most of the winter, the Salvation Army shelter had been running around 95 per cent capacity. On Wednesday night it was over capacity for the first time this year.

Michael Maidment, spokesperson with the Salvation Army in Ottawa said they open extra areas at the downtown Booth Centre on George Street so people can escape the cold.

The Salvation Army outreach program also attempts to bring people into the shelter, said Maidment. Outreach workers also travel with extra hats, mittens, coats, sleeping bags and blankets for people who refuse to go into the shelter.

Rob Eady with the Shepherds of Good Hope said they have to put mats down to accommodate the extra demand.

The most noticeable effect of the cold weather is the extra demand for gloves, mittens and toques.

“That’s what we focus on, making sure our clients are wrapped up in layers,” he said. “If they need to come in, we’re flexible enough to be able to open other buildings.”

Everything Shepherds of Good Hope hands out comes from community donations.

At the Ottawa Mission, emergency services manager Joey Clare said they also get much more demand for boots and warm clothing.

Throughout the winter, the Mission will hand out 1,000 coats and pairs of boots, said Clare.

Beds at the Mission are usually filled during the winter, but when the weather gets colder, it fills up a lot sooner, said Clare.

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