Outreach workers prepare for frigid weekend as temperatures plunge

·1 min read
Ottawa Public Health's frostbite advisory remains in effect as the overnight temperature is expected to dip to –24 C on Friday.
Ottawa Public Health's frostbite advisory remains in effect as the overnight temperature is expected to dip to –24 C on Friday.

(Andrew Lee/CBC)

As frigid winter temperatures continue to grip the capital, local agencies that help the homeless say their workers will be on high alert to help anyone needing shelter from the cold.

Ottawa Public Health has issued a frostbite advisory, with overnight temperatures expected to drop to –24 C, according to Environment Canada. With the wind chill, it will feel more like –30.

The Salvation Army's Glenn van Gulik said the charity currently has two outreach vans on the road, but may put a third vehicle into service depending on demand.

Van Gulik said the COVID-19 pandemic can make it difficult to convince some people to enter a shelter, and said it makes the job of outreach workers more difficult, too.

"Every time we have someone come into the van, after we've dropped them off into their choice location ... we have to do a full disinfection of the vehicle," he said. "That's why we've had to increase the number of vehicles and the number of people who are supporting our team."

There are currently five active outbreaks within Ottawa's shelter system. A sixth outbreak was declared over on Friday.

The city has a network of shelters, respite centres and physical distancing centres available during the pandemic.