It’s been a cold couple of days for people living on Winnipeg’s streets.
Downtown shelters, like Siloam Mission, are trying to take in as many people as possible.
Mike Beauregard, director of development and communications with Siloam Mission, says this weather brings a lot more people to the shelter.
“Our dining hall seats 140 people and when it’s really cold we get upwards of 400 to 500 people showing up for every meal — breakfast, lunch and dinner — so we have to serve them in waves, unfortunately,” he says.
That means staff also need to make much more food, making donations during cold weather more crucial.
At night, Beauregard says Siloam works with other shelters like the Salvation Army and the Main Street Project to give people a warm place to sleep, but there’s just not enough room for everyone.
He says many people walk around at night to stay warm, but it can become dangerous if they fall asleep or get too cold.
“We have had casualties,” Beauregard says. “We had a fellow just last year in January lose both feet to frostbite. We prefer not to see that. So, we do all we can to find space for people if we just don’t have any room in our shelter.”
Beauregard also says homelessness is on the rise, making it more difficult to find places for people to stay.
“The homelessness issue here is not going away and we’re consistently dealing with larger numbers each and every year.”
In October, volunteers hit the streets to record data for the city’s first ever Winnipeg Street Census. A final report suggests at least 1,400 people are homeless in Winnipeg on any given night.
The wind chill is expected to hit -35 Celsius Saturday afternoon. Saturday night’s low is -16, but with the wind chill it will feel more like -30.