Video: Toronto Shelters Battle Frigid Weather
When the temperatures plummet, Toronto's most vulnerable head indoors and those working in shelters spring into action.
At the Good Shepherd on Queen near Parliament the beds fill up a little quicker at night, with staff seeing more people coming earlier for meals and staying later after they finish eating, lingering for as long as possible in the heat.
Those that work at the shelter say they are used to operating at close to capacity most days of the year, so they can handle the rush, but they do make changes when it's frigid outside.
"The difference when it's extreme heat or extreme cold is the demand for our services increases," says Adrienne Urquhart, Director, of Fundraising and Public Relations. "What we try to do in a situation like this is we try to go that extra mile so we can help more people."
They try and go the extra mile by keeping a close eye on those that come through the doors, making sure the shelter's on site nurse checks on their health and having front desk staff ask if anyone needs hats, mitts, and more.
"If we do see someone who isn't properly clothed we will encourage them to get clothing," says Urquhart.
Warm clothes are also handed out during morning drop in hours and a sitting area is opened up early before meals so that people can come in from the cold.
It's all but guaranteed the shelters 91 beds will be full on a cold night and staff make sure to give TTC tokens to anyone they can't let in, giving that person transportation to another shelter or warming centre.
"You can imagine someone who's out there on their own, they appreciate anything that we can give them," says Urquhart.
"We're happy that we can do something but we're extremely concerned that there are people that aren't getting the help that they require."
The Good Shepherd sees an increase in clothing donations around this time of year, but says anything that can be given is needed year-round.
Warm boots are one of the items most needed during the winter.