The snowfall may have tapered off in the GTA, but the messy roads and frigid temperatures are sticking around.

Environment Canada has issued an extreme cold warning for most of Ontario.

The agency is forecasting a high of just -16 C in Toronto today but it feels closer to -30 with the wind chill. Later tonight, the temperature is expected to drop to -22 C, feeling like -35. In these conditions, frostbite can occur “within minutes,” the agency said.

“Risks are greater for young children, older adults, people with chronic illnesses, people working or exercising outdoors, and those without proper shelter,” Environment Canada said.  

Hundreds of collisions reported around the GTA

A little over six centimetres of snow fell in Toronto on Saturday, leaving roads slick and tricky to navigate.

At around 1:30 p.m., Ontario Provincial Police said they had responded to more than 350 collisions on GTA roads over the past 24 hours.  

OPP advised people to stay home if they don’t need to go out and to slow down and drive according to conditions if they are on the roads.

“There’s still a lot of snow and slush on the shoulders, on the ramps, and even in between the lanes in some sections of the GTA.  People need to be aware of that,” OPP Sgt. Kerry Schmidt said. “It is still wet out there and obviously the temperatures are still very cold and there is always the potential for re-freezing as well. We just want people to drive appropriately.”

Earlier in the day, Const. Allyson Douglas-Cook‏ told CP24 that more than 100 collisions were reported overnight in the city.

"It was quite a bit. Thankfully none of them were very serious. There were no serious injuries reported," she said. "Just slow down, take your time, and adjust your driving accordingly." 

Concern grows for homeless population

The deep freeze has also prompted the city to issue an extreme cold weather alert and the prolonged bout of bone-chilling cold has sparked concern for the city’s homeless population.  

“We’re concerned that nobody freezes to death,” homeless advocate Jody Steinhaur told CP24 Sunday.  “There aren’t enough shelter beds and there are people that are sleeping rough.”

Steinhaur said her group, Engage and Change, deployed 3,000 survival kits to over 200 social service agencies yesterday. Among other items, each kits includes a sleeping bag, toque, gloves, hygiene products, energy bars and water bottles.

“Already they’re emailing us this morning, ‘please can we have more.’ And they’re supposed to last the whole winter,” Steinhaur said. “The sleeping bag is what’s keeping people alive on nights like tonight.”

She said that while the city has opened respite centres to try and keep people off the streets, outreach programs are reporting that there aren’t enough beds.

“We can get these (survival kits) to all the facilities and shelters until the city can open up more beds, but we need beds now and we need long-term housing and supportive services,” Steinhaur said. “This is not a solution, this is a band-aid and I don’t want to be doing this again next year.”

More cold weather on the way

The frigid weather is expected to continue Monday morning, and it could feel as cold as -40 when factoring in the wind chill.

“Wind chill values will moderate above the warning criteria of minus 30 later on Monday as winds ease, but cold temperatures near minus 20 or colder are still expected Monday night,” Environment Canada said.

 “A milder air mass will begin to move in Tuesday.”

Tuesday will see a high of -5 C and the temperature will rise above zero to 3 C on Wednesday.

In the meantime, the extreme cold alert means that a warming centre is open at Metro Hall downtown.

There are also a number of facilities around the city where people can go to get out of the cold:

24-Hour Respite Sites - Locations and capacity

  • 354 George Street (105)
  • 201 Cowan Avenue (21)
  • 323 Dundas Street East (50)
  • 545 Lake Shore Boulevard West (200)
  • 21 Park Road (30)
  • 705 Progress Avenue (49)
  • 180 Princes' Boulevard (200)
  • 25 Augusta Avenue (50)
  • 69 Fraser Avenue (100)
  • 129 Peter St (Streets to Homes Assessment and Referral Centre (25)

24-Hour Women's Drop-Ins

  • Sistering, 962 Bloor St West (50)
  • Fred Victor Women's Drop-In, 67 Adelaide St East (70)

Warming Centre

  • Metro Hall, 55 John Street (entrance from King Street West) (30)

Other services can be found on the city’s website