Southern Manitoba under extreme cold warning

WINNIPEG — Environment Canada has issued an extreme cold warning for southern Manitoba Wednesday night, warning temperatures could plummet to -40 C with the wind chill.

A winter storm that rolled in earlier this week unleashed frigid temperatures.

“I’ve been waiting for it for quite a while,” said Winnipeg resident Sam Gerbasi, as he shoveled his front yard. “I love the snow.”

While less snow fell on the city than expected, the fierce winds created dangerous driving conditions.

CAA Manitoba said as of midnight Wednesday it responded to more than 179 calls, which is around double the average for this time of year.

Crews with the City of Winnipeg have also been busy.

“We started plowing Sunday night,” said Michael Cantor, the city’s manager of street maintenance.

“It’s a bit later than usual, we had a very dry November.”

There are roughly 250 pieces of snow removal equipment on city streets and sidewalks, but there are no plans yet for residential plowing.

“Most of our residential streets are passable. They’re not in bad condition,” said Cantor. “We’ll be addressing some trouble spots.”

SEEKING SHELTER COMPLICATED BY COVID-19

For some of Manitoba’s most vulnerable, finding shelter from the frigid temperatures has become more difficult because of the lockdown.

“So many of the places a person might access to warm up, public spaces, coffee shops, are closed to due to pandemic restrictions,” said Kris Clemens, manager of communications and community relations for End Homelessness Winnipeg.

The organization has released a Winter Weather Response Plan to help people access shelters and other resources.

“The biggest challenge is that people don’t know where all the spaces are or which ones might be the right fit,” said Clemens.

Salvation Army Winnipeg Centre of Hope executive director Maj. Gordon Taylor said the shelter on Henry Avenue isn’t yet at capacity.

The government’s COVID-19 isolation centres have taken some of the pressure off the shelter system.

“The province has provided spaces for people to isolate when they don’t have a home and the reality of that is that it’s added beds to the whole system,” said Taylor.

Taylor said the Salvation Army has been preparing for the winter for months.

“We haven’t hit a really long cold spell yet so we have to see how it goes,” he told CTV News Wednesday. “Through this past year with COVID… one of the really good things that has come out of it is this incredible spirit of cooperation.” 

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