Colin Musgrove stays warm by bundling up in the cold weather downtown Victoria.

Cold weather increases need for emergency shelter

Victoria Extreme Weather Protocol increased the amount of emergency shelter mats from tier one to tier two yesterday for the first time

For the first time this season, the Greater Victoria Extreme Weather Protocol increased the amount of available emergency shelter mats beyond the standard amount on Monday.

According to Environment Canada, the coldest day in the last few days was Sunday (Nov. 30) morning at -3.7 C. By comparison, the recorded low on Nov. 30 last year was 6.5 C.

Overnight shelters in Greater Victoria were at over 90 per cent capacity on Sunday night, and Our Place Society was no exception.

“With the weather being this cold, we were filled to our capacity for sleeping mats,” said McKenzie.

When shelters are at 90 per cent capacity or higher, the Greater Victoria Extreme Weather Protocol increases the amount of mats from tier one to tier two, said Jen Bacon, regional coordinator.

In tier one, Our Place has 30 mats available for sleeping, and in tier two there are 50 available mats.

“This year we’ve definitely noticed a lot more people coming in,” said Grant McKenzie, director of communications at Our Place. “It definitely seems to be busier than it was last year.”

McKenzie said the age range of people coming into Our Place has been more dramatic this year, from people aged 19 years old to senior citizens. As well, Our Place is seeing more people coming in who have casual on-call jobs, but do not necessarily have the best places to live.

In addition to overnight emergency shelter, Our Place also offers a warming station where people can get a hot drink and something to eat.

“When the extreme weather protocol comes in, we bring in extra staff and we keep that going throughout the night,” said McKenzie.

Currently McKenzie said Our Place is in need of warm winter clothing donations, including socks, toques, underwear, sleeping bags, blankets and winter coats.

According to Environment Canada, Wednesday’s high will be sunny with a low of 0 C and a high of 7 C and Thursday will be cloudy with a low of -1 C and a high of 6 C, with a 60 per cent chance of showers.

Emergency Weather Protocol uses Environment Canada’s daily 11 a.m. forecast to determine if the protocol will be activated or not, and whether it will be a tier one or tier two activation.

 

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