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Extreme Cold Alert Hits Toronto

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The city of Toronto has been issued an extreme cold weather alert to trigger additional homeless services as the temperature drops to –15 C overnight.

"Alerts are typically called in the morning for the coming overnight period so that community agencies have sufficient time to call in extra staff to provide enhanced services," a release from the city read Saturday.

Toronto usually adds 172 shelter spaces during an extreme cold alert. Shelters will be asked to relax any current restrictions. If no beds are available, they must allow clients to stay there until a bed can be found elsewhere.

At some drop-in-centres, TTC tokens are made available so people can get to other shelters.

The warning remains in effect until further notice.

The weather warning comes a day after men and women took to city hall to protest the shortage of beds in homeless shelters.

Brett Thomas knows where he will spend Saturday night with some peace of mind.

“I came last night and I got a bed here at Good Sheppard. As long as I’m here at 5:30 p.m. to keep my bed and that’s the important thing,” Thomas said.

There are 91 beds at the Good Sheppard — a shelter on Queen Street East where people can get a warm meal, sometimes clothing and a bed for the night.

With Saturday’s extreme cold temperatures, all the beds are likely to remain full.

Despite 172 new beds being added during the alert, many say there is still a vast shortage for Toronto’s homeless.

Kenton Calbert, who has stayed in shelters, says the Good Sheppard is always full. On cold nights, people have had to go elsewhere, or else would only have to sleep on the floor.

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