Shelters gather homeless during cold snap
With a cold snap taking hold of Montreal this weekend, below freezing temperatures posed a dangerous threat to the city's homeless.
Temperatures Friday night dropped to minus 25, and the 450 beds at the Old Brewery Mission were taken.
It has set up emergency beds for Saturday night.
"Because of the cold we're going to keep the Mission open for the guys so that they can stay in, to stay out of the cold, said Scott Arnold at the Old Brewery Mission.
The Welcome Home Mission was in the same position.
"We don't want anyone to be outside," said director Cyril Morgan.
The shelter usually has about 180 beds, but it hopes to accommodate up to 200 or 210 homeless people this weekend.
"Now that it's starting to get cold, we have more and more of them coming in," he said.
The Welcome Home Mission is working with the Old Brewery Mission and Maison du Pere to provide a shuttle service between shelters.
When one reaches capacity, the shuttle will drive people to another shelter which has vacant beds.
Altogether the three shelters can provide beds for 600 people.
On Thursday, 573 were in use.
Morgan says if the driver of the shuttle sees anyone still on the street, he'll try to convince them to come in from the cold.
Meantime, Sun Youth is busy helping people who have homes, but can't afford to heat them.
The organization is providing winter clothing and by Saturday morning, a dozen requests for heating oil donations had come in.
"We set up this program 19 years ago when somebody froze to death in their apartment. We go to apartments where it's damp, it's cold, you touch the walls and it's almost like a freezer. it's very uncomfortable," said Sun Youth co-founder Sid Stevens.
Dr. Lissa Altschuler of the Animal Health Clinic also suggested not to ignore furry friends when the mercury dips.
"Limit the walks to basic business and come home, no more than 5 to 10 minutes in this weather, because you can develop frostbite very very quickly, she said, also suggesting bundling them in warm outfits.