- As temperatures drop to -30 with the windchill, Mayor Plante, the city of Montreal and CUISSS are thinking about those without a warm place to stay this season.
- There's a lot we can do to help, including calling the authorities if we think a homeless person is in danger of suffering from frostbite.
- Take a look at what the city is doing to protect the most vulnerable and how you can help.
As you likely felt yesterday, it has gotten absolutely freezing in Montreal this week, with temperatures hanging out at around -30 with the windchill at some points. When temperatures drop that far below zero, it can take less than 30 minutes for exposed skin to suffer from frostbite, particularly if the skin is at all wet. In some cases, it can take as little as 10 minutes for exposed skin to begin suffering the effects of the cold. Most people are fine — they bundle up at home and scurry the 10-minute walk to the metro or bus and they're back inside.
But for those people in Montreal that have nowhere to call home this holiday season, or have nowhere to go all winter long, these next couple months could mean life or death.
Plus, we're only in December. The past couple days of cold have really just been a teaser for what we know is coming in droves by February.
So what can you do to help?
Well, it turns out there are a couple things, as Mayor Valerie Plante explained when she took to Twitter yesterday to ask for the public's help when it comes to keeping our homeless safe this winter.
Plante sent out the following thread of tweets yesterday addressing the increasingly cold temperatures and outlining what her team at city hall and the Centre intégré universitaire de santé et de services sociaux have done to better protect those out on the street this season.
Translation: With the temperature dropping, teams from the @MTL_Ville, the @ciusss_csmtl and our community partners are proactive and have implemented and improved several measures adapted to the different needs of people experiencing homelessness. (1/4) #polmtl
The plans in place make sure to consider males, females, trans people, couples, youth, and even people with pets.
Plante also went on to explain how the people of Montreal can help out, too.
The Royal-Victoria hospital has been equipped with over 1,000 beds spread out over several sections allowing for as many individuals as possible while also making sure people feel safe.
Translation: In addition to 1,104 emergency beds available on the island, the emergency shelter of the former Royal-Victoria hospital has been improved to better accommodate men and women on two single-sex floors, and trans people; intoxicated; with pets; and with reduced mobility. (2/4) #polmtl
Translation: Two heat stops open their doors every night this winter to offer heat, meals and rest on their premises, and an improved service of three shuttles provides east to west journeys between emergency accommodation resources. (3/4) #polmtl
The city has also introduced two "heat stops" where people can stop to warm up and fill their bellies. The first is at 137 rue Président-Kennedy and the second at 3674 Ontario Est, with a shuttle providing access to the other location if one becomes full.
But we as individuals can also help by making sure that homeless people aren't suffering alone or left uncared for as temperatures continue to drop.
Plante explained that anyone needing help or access to services can dial 211 for more information.
Montrealers are also asked to call 911 without hesitation if they spot a homeless person who they believe could be in danger of hypothermia, frostnip or frostbite.
I'd also suggest taking a dig into the back of your closet where you've got three scarves you haven't worn in as many years.
Winter clothing can do a lot to keep homeless people safe both day and night, and it costs you nothing to give up something you're not using anyway.
Let's keep each other safe this winter.