As the temperature drops in Winnipeg, local shelters are seeing increased demand in people seeking a space to escape the cold.
Devin Bray, the director of 1JustCity’s just A Warm Sleep, says their shelter has been full every night since opening in November.
“A lot of the time, people are coming here because they don’t want to go to the shelter area and for different reasons,” he said. “And unfortunately, we fill up pretty fast.”
Bray said the centre, which has 30 beds doesn’t have enough room to offer more beds.
Mark Stewart, executive director of the Salvation Army Centre of Hope, said they have also seen more people due to the cold, but are working with other shelters, such as Siloam Mission and Main Street Project, to ensure space is available if none is available at Salvation Army.
“The relationships that we have built as a sector have gotten stronger over the year,” Stewart said.
Among shelter workers, the recent closure of the Millennium Library following a fatal stabbing has also led to issues. The library featured a warming space for people to use during cold weather. However, since the homicide occurred, the library has been closed, and there has been no reopening date announced as of Dec. 21.
“With the Millennium Library closed right now, a lot of our folks have nowhere to go,” Bray said. “So, they’re going to Cityplace to hang out, but again, they don’t have enough money to even buy a coffee, so the security or police are ushering them along and kind of forcing them to go to the larger shelter systems, which they don’t want to go to, usually for safety reasons.”
Stewart says since bookings are required for the Centre of Hope, they haven’t seen a daytime impact other shelters have seen since the Millennium Library closed.
Stewart says people should call services such as police, Downtown Safety or Main Street Project if they see people struggling in the cold.
“We can do our best to try and get them back to a shelter and get them warm and safe,” he said.
Bray said there needs to be additional smaller drop-in spaces in more areas in the city where people can go and get warm.
The City of Winnipeg said in a statement that people who need a temporary spot to seek a break from the cold weather can warm up in civic facilities during regular operating hours. CTV News Winnipeg has reached out for information on the number of cold weather and bus shelter calls crews have responded to during the cold weather.
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