An extreme weather alert has been issued for Kelowna and emergency warming locations have been opened across the city.
The City of Kelowna activated the cold weather protocols and warming bus when temperatures were forecast to fall below -10C overnight.
Kelowna is expected to see temperatures plummet below -20C overnight, before windchill, through the week until Dec. 22.
The freezing temperatures disproportionately impact those experiencing unsheltered homelessness by increasing the risk of frostbite and hypothermia, says the Kelowna Gospel Mission.
The City of Kelowna has announced several emergency warming options:
- Richter Street and Weddell Place warming bus. The bus has a capacity of 24 people and can be found overnight Dec. 16 - 23
- The Parkinson Rec Centre
- Metro Central Drop-in Centre
- Kelowna Downtown Library
The warming bus will be available from 10 p.m. to 6 a.m. daily until temperatures rise to above -10C. It will be operational through the winter during cold snaps.
A bus driver will be at the bus through the night in addition to the outdoor sheltering site’s regular security personnel.
“Thanks to the partners and volunteers who we’ve worked with to provide this emergency response to extremely cold weather, we have a safe, warm place for people who have nowhere else to go in this weather,” said Mayor Tom Dyas.
Front-line workers, City Bylaw Services, RCMP, and other community outreach agencies will be handing out blankets, sleeping bags, tents, socks, and hand/feet warmers while helping people find shelter beds.
The city has also purchased 27 insulated tents which will be available for use shortly.
The online dashboard with the Journey Home Society gives real-time updates on available shelter beds in Kelowna.
READ MORE: Prominent Kelowna homeless advocate dies