When temperatures slide into the dangerously cold category, emergency shelters and other organizations in the city take extra steps to help people who have nowhere else to go.
At its temporary location in downtown Regina, Carmichael Outreach offers a place for people to warm up by providing food, coffee and a room full of donated clothing.
Rochelle Berenyi is the communications, advocacy and projects manager at Carmichael. She said normally the building closes up over noon, but when the temperature hits -30 C, the staff try to keep it open because there aren’t a lot of other places for homeless people to go during the day.
“It really is tough especially somewhere like Saskatchewan where it can get this cold and it’s so open,” she said.
On the coldest winter days, she hears a variety of stories from people coming through the doors. Some looking for rooms or apartments to rent and trying to apply for social assistance to help cover the cost.
Others are trying to connect with Mobile Crisis to find emergency shelter for the night, but there are those who are trying to find anywhere warm to sleep.
“People will hide under parking garage entrances, things like that – that are heated, or try their best to,” she said. “I know a lot of people that have been trying to hide in bank ATM spaces and being sent away from there and stuff too.”
During extremely cold weather conditions, emergency shelters in the city work in a partnership to implement a weather strategy ensuring every person in need has a safe, warm place to sleep.
According to the Mobile Crisis website, the guiding principles of the strategy also accommodate for intoxicated people or those who may have been banned from shelters in the past.
Mobile Crisis provides a list of emergency shelters with available beds in the city.
Salvation Army Waterston Centre runs an emergency shelter for men with 46 beds plus six overflow cots.
“We’re finding that our shelter beds are much more in demand,” explained Maj. Wayne Mcdonough, noting the shelter was at 95 per cent capacity Wednesday.
Over the weekend, he said the shelter was using all the beds with only two overflow cots to spare.
“We haven’t been maxed out yet, and I don’t anticipate that other (shelters) have, but they’re getting close to a point of concern,” Mcdonough explained.
At Waterston Centre he said the main concern is getting message out that if people have no place to go in the cold, they can go there for help.
Normally Waterston Centre closes the shelter through the day, but on extremely cold days, Mcdonough said they do keep the doors to the sitting room open to allow people to stay warm.
Both Carmichael Outreach and the Waterston Centre stressed the need for donated warm clothing like hats, mitts, scarves and socks.