Public Service Announcement: City and partners responding to extreme cold weather

CALGARY, AB – With winter temperatures set to significantly drop over the coming days, The City of Calgary, the Calgary Homeless Foundation and our community partners have enhanced the focus on keeping vulnerable Calgarians safe during the upcoming extreme cold weather.

“Taking a compassion-first approach, our priority is to ensure that every Calgarian who needs a warm place to shelter during the upcoming cold weather has access to one,” says Kay Choi, Community Safety and Wellbeing Lead for The City of Calgary.

To prepare, The City has been working with community partners and social agencies to get programs and services in place that support individuals through cold weather. These include:

Emergency Shelter Shuttle

The Emergency Shelter Shuttle provides transportation to individuals sheltering along the LRT line to available shelter space. It operates seven days a week between 10:30 p.m. to 4 a.m. until March 31, 2024. Staff from Alpha House, Transit Public Safety and Calgary Transit work together to connect with people sheltering along the LRT line and encourage access to available shelter space. Between December 1 and January 6 there were 824 transports from LRT stations to emergency shelters.

Partner Teams

City peace officers, accompanied by outreach staff from Alpha House, proactively check common locations where people may be sleeping rough. During the checks, they assess the welfare of those they encounter and offer resources as well as basic need items, including handwarmers, food hampers and socks. They also address unsafe situations, and as necessary, make contact with emergency responders. The goal is to get those sleeping rough the assistance they need, and working with our partners, into long-term housing solutions.

Coordinated Community Extreme Weather Response

Through funding support from The City, the Calgary Homeless Foundation has increased accessible daytime warming spaces within the Homeless Serving System of Care as part of The Coordinated Community Extreme Weather Response. The warming spaces give people opportunity to access healthcare, social support and long-term solutions for homelessness like employment and housing. There are 425 daytime spaces available through nine organizations.  In addition to formal warming spaces, Calgary Public Libraries are available during normal business hours for those that require respite from the cold weather.

The Salvation Army Mobile Warming Station sets up at two LRT station locations each day and offers food, hot drinks and transportation to shelter from 12 p.m. to 6 p.m. The daily schedule is available at Salvation Army Mobile Warming Station Schedule - Calgary Homeless Foundation.

Additionally, a new service provider, Parachute for Pets, provides a warming space for people with and without pets. Individuals can leave pets overnight, access pet food/supplies, social support, and connect to shelters for overnight accommodation.   

“We know that the decision to access shelters is complex,” says Choi. “We do encourage Calgarians experiencing vulnerabilities to go to shelters to protect themselves from winter conditions, like frostbite, injury and potential loss of life. It is the safest option.”

According to the Government of Alberta there is capacity in the emergency shelter system. The City will continue to work closely with our provincial contacts and partners to monitor capacity during the colder temperatures, Choi adds.

If you see someone who needs assistance, call the HELP Team at 403-998-7388. If someone is in serious distress or non-responsive, call 911. Calgarians can also consider donating to emergency shelters and outreach organizations and groups. Check these organizations’ social media to see what is needed and how to donate.