Those heading outside today are being advised to bundle up as the Greater Toronto Area and nearly all of Ontario experience a bout of bone-chilling cold.
An extreme cold warning remains in effect for Toronto and much of eastern Canada.
The temperature in the city sat at -17 C early Friday, but it feels more like -26 with the wind chill.
Environment Canada warned that it could feel as cold as -30 with the wind chill this morning.
While the temperature is expected to go up somewhat today to a high of -13 C, it will, nevertheless feel frigid with the wind chill and temperatures are expected to drop again overnight. A low of -22C is expected overnight, though it will feel closer to -30 with the wind chill.
CP24 Meteorologist Bill Coulter said that if the temperature does drop to – 22 C overnight, it will be the coldest air recorded in Toronto since January 31, 2019 (-22.8 C).
The temperature dipped down to -21.2 C back on Jan. 29 of last year, Coulter noted.
Frostbite can occur within just minutes on exposed skin in such cold temperatures.
“Dress warmly. Dress in layers that you can remove if you get too warm. The outer layer should be wind resistant,” Environment Canada advised.
Temperatures are expected to ease off during the day Saturday, going up to a high of – 3 C, then rising to a high of 3 C on Sunday and Monday.
Pearson International Airport warned that the cold could pose challenges for ground crews and their equipment.
“If you’re flying out of YYZ, please be patient with crews as they work safely to get your plane in the air,” the airport advised.
The TTC said Line 3 (Scarborough RT) is not operating between Kennedy and McCowan due to a mechanical problem and shuttle buses are running to replace regular service.
COLD SPARKS CONCERN FOR UNHOUSED POPULATION
Two of Toronto’s four warming centres were at capacity overnight amid the bone-chilling temperatures. The city said that it offers free transportation to other warming centres when that occurs, but advocates for the homeless are nonetheless sounding concern.
Ward 9 Councillor Alejandra Bravo told CP24 she’d like to see more done, including having warming centres open 24/7 during the winter instead of only during extreme cold.
“It's really about just having a place to go to get inside and it's the high cost to the individual who's suffering but also to the places where they show up,” Bravo said. “For example, in emergency departments. On any given night, emergency department chiefs have told us that the waiting room was filled with people who are simply looking for a place to get inside.
“And you know, this isn't a problem that we don't expect. We know that we're going to have winter. We know that inclement weather has a terrible impact on people's health. And we know that that we need to do something.”
Doug Johnson Hatlem, a street pastor at Sanctuary Toronto, said there needs to be a “massive change” in terms of where resources are spent.
“To open up those 24/7 warming centers in the same period last year cost about $3.5 million. And it's something we should be doing,” he said. “We should be doing additional spaces. You know, we have money when it comes to policing in the city. We have money when it comes to fighter jets in this country. We don't seem to have the money it takes to keep people warm on the coldest nights.”
The city typically doesn’t have enough space to meet demand at its shelter system nightly as it operates at maximum capacity.
In a statement Friday, the city said it has directed all shelters and warming centres not to turn anyone away during the extreme cold.
“As always, the city’s top priority is supporting our most vulnerable residents. The city is taking additional measures to help ensure the safety of those experiencing homelessness during this extreme winter weather,” the statement read.
It said 432 additional shelter spaces were added to the system by expanding warming centre capacity and opening temporary contingency spaces at various shelter sites and that those spaces were available last night.
“As of 4 a.m. this morning, capacity remained in the shelter system. Staff worked with clients that arrived at warming centres that experienced higher demand to find additional accommodations elsewhere in the system,” the city said.
Cecil Community Centre Executive Director Daniel Anckle told CP24 his organization mobilized to open their space as a warming centre this week in response to the frigid weather and were included in the extra capacity mentioned by the city.
He said the city was responsive to the idea and they were able to open the new space on Monday, less than two weeks after bringing it up.
“We had to ramp up really quickly. We opened by 7 p.m. and by 9 p.m., it was a capacity. And we’ve been at capacity ever since,” Anckle said.
While he said the city was “incredible” in terms of help0iung them set up the community centre as a warming centre, he was surprised when he learned that there was so little space available in the system compared to the need.
“I don't think it's the solution,” he said of the temporary warming centre. “Clearly people are staying here because they don't have somewhere to live. So the real solution is to figure out housing, affordable housing, supportive housing. This is just a stopgap, like people shouldn't be living like this.”