12/24/2013 03:23 EST | Updated 01/25/2014 04:01 EST

Airbnb Launches Urgent Accommodations To Help Victims Of Toronto Power Outages


If you've used Airbnb before, you know that the site pairs travellers with home owners to create a Craigslist for couch-surfers. Well, the vacation rental website is putting a twist on its services in light of Sunday's deadly ice storm in Eastern Canada.

From Dec. 23 to Dec. 30, the site is waiving service fees for Toronto area users affected by the disaster. This means users can book or advertise places for free. The site is also promoting the properties of users who have power and are willing to take in people for free.

Airbnb says the gestures are part of their disaster response service: an idea created following the destruction that Hurricane Sandy left in New York in 2012.

Toronto, like many regions across Eastern Canada, continues to deal with the aftermath of nearly 30 mm of freezing rain from the weekend. Emergency workers and hydro crews are still working to clean up the mess that the storm left in its wake.

In Toronto, roughly 115,000 residents are entering their third day without power; for some, it could mean a dark Christmas.

In Quebec's Eastern Townships, an estimated 24,000 households are still without power as hydro crews work to restore power lines downed by icy trees, CBC News reports. In The Maritimes, roughly 5,000 Nova Scotians and 44,000 New Brunswickers remain in the dark.

Airbnb is not the only Canadian company stepping up in response to the ice storm. On Monday, Rogers announced it would open its retail locations in Ontario to let visitors charge their phones and provide free Wi-Fi, reports Mobile Syrup. Toronto's Real Jerk restaurant is also embracing the giving spirit by offering a free Christmas lunch with a "Caribbean flair."

With files from The Canadian Press

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