Vancouver opens warming centres in response to cold temperatures

Nov 28 2019, 4:58 pm

With cold temperatures expected tonight and tomorrow, the city is opening emergency warming centres to get vulnerable people out of the cold.

The warming centres will be open on the evenings of November 28 and 29.

Warming centres are activated in the city in response to “extreme cold” as a “life-saving response for people sleeping outside during the city’s coldest months.”

They will be open at the following locations:

  • Britannia Community Centre – 1739 Venables Street 9 pm to 8:30 am
  • Powell Street Getaway – 528 Powell Street 9 pm to 7 am
  • The Overdose Prevention Society — 58 East Hastings Street 11 pm to 8 am
  • Vancouver Aquatic Centre — 1050 Beach Avenue 10 pm and 6 am

Pets, bikes, and carts are allowed in the centres, and visitors are welcome.

Extra shelter spaces will also be open at the following locations:

City of Vancouver

The city opens extreme weather response shelters when temperatures dip below 0°C or “feel like” below 0°C with windchill, or when there is sleet, freezing rain, snow accumulation, sustained high winds, or rainfall of at least 50 mm in a 24-hour period.

Warming centres are activated when the temperature reaches -5°C or below (or it feels like -5°C or below). Hot drinks and snacks will be available, and those with their own bedding may choose to sleep at the centre.

According to Environment Canada, Vancouver’s forecast temperatures are expected to dip to -3°C  but will feel as low as -9°C with the wind chill.

The city is urging anyone sleeping outside to come to the safety of the shelters.

“The … weather is worsening and this is leading to people taking dangerous measures to try and stay warm,” it stated in a release.

At Oppenheimer Park, a Fire Chief’s order has been in place since February 2019 which sets out a number of conditions to reduce the fire hazard for people living in the park, but compliance with that order has been limited.”

The City notes that there have been over 20 fires in the park since February and Vancouver Fire Rescue Services (VFRS) reports increasing dangerous situations that “pose a serious risk to life.”

VFRS recently confiscated two 30-pound propane tanks with domestic hosepipes attacked to them with tape, which were being used to fuel an open grill flame inside a tent.

The open flame had already burnt the tent and risked causing a “significant” explosion in the park.

More information about the city’s cold weather response can be found here.