The extreme weather response implements City Policy C620 to ensure the
health and safety of all Edmontonians, particularly those who are vulnerable to extreme weather conditions.
The City will activate a response for extreme cold, extreme heat and high risk air quality conditions. Learn more about when activations will occur and what to do during these 3 extreme weather conditions.
Extreme Cold Threshold
The City is ready to activate an extreme weather response once forecasts indicate conditions of -20 degrees Celsius with wind chill for at least 3 days in a row, typically accompanied by an Environment Canada alert for extreme cold.
The City also considers other factors when activating a response, such as the numbers of shelter spaces available and information from key stakeholders about the health risks and impacts of weather on vulnerable Edmontonians.
The City takes precautions and activates when needed to ensure the health and safety of vulnerable people who may be at risk of harm from cold weather.
For information on shelter sites operating this winter, visit Homeward Trust for Edmonton’s Sector Emergency Response.
New this season is an overnight transportation service that will operate all winter regardless of temperature. The service is intended to support Edmontonians needing access to emergency shelter spaces. The transportation service will include:
Two buses operating from November 1, 2023-March 31, 2024 on 2 different routes:
Staff on each bus to offer help to passengers needing access to available shelter spaces and to make referrals to other services
During an extreme weather response, the following measures will be activated:
A 3rd bus will be added to the overnight transportation service to ensure additional capacity is available for transporting people to available shelters.
Temporary emergency shelter spaces will open at Al Rashid Mosque in north Edmonton. These 50 spaces are meant to supplement existing shelter capacity.
Open City facilities and libraries will be available to anyone needing respite from the extreme cold. This does not include Edmonton Transit Service’s transit centres and LRT stations because they are not appropriate for warming or sheltering purposes.
The City’s encampment response will prioritize the health and safety of all community members and consider the impacts of the extreme cold conditions. Encampment closures will only be conducted when deemed high risk based on the encampment risk matrix.
During Cold Temperatures
Learn to recognize the signs of hypothermia:
Drowsiness or exhaustion
Note: A person with severe hypothermia may be unconscious and may not seem to have a pulse or to be breathing.
Call 911 for someone in serious distress or in cases of emergency
Call 211, press 3 for 24/7 Crisis Diversion non-emergency support for shelter, intoxication and mental health
The threshold for air quality activations is 2 consecutive days of a score of 7 or higher on the Air Quality Health Index. Activations will include the following measures:
Open City facilities will be available for anyone needing respite from the smoke, such as recreation centres, pools and libraries. Transit centres and LRT stations are not appropriate for respite from smoke because most of these facilities are exposed to the outside air and do not have controlled indoor climates.
Distribution of N95 masks to social agency partners to provide to community members in need of protection from smoke.
What Edmontonians Can Do To Help
The City encourages people to take any and all actions to reduce exposure to the smoke. For example, keep all building and vehicle windows and doors closed as much as possible.
The City also encourages Edmontonians to check in on older family, friends and neighbours. If you are concerned about someone outside, you can help by calling:
211 and press 3 for the 24/7 Crisis Diversion team. They can assist with individuals who may be in distress and can provide transportation to social service agencies.
For extreme heat, the threshold for activation typically involves the presence of an Environment Canada alert and forecasts with peak temperatures of 29 degrees Celsius during the days and lows of 14 degrees Celsius during the nights for at least 3 consecutive days.
Key Health Risks
During extreme heat conditions, the key health risks involve dehydration, heat exhaustion and heat stroke. The extreme heat response in Edmonton is therefore focused on expanding access to water and cool indoor spaces for respite. It is also important for Edmontonians to know how to prepare and what to watch for during extreme heat, such as symptoms of heat illness. Helpful information is provided by the Alberta Government and Alberta Health Services on managing extreme heat.
If you are concerned about someone outside in the extreme heat, you can help:
Call 211 and press 3 for the 24/7 Crisis Diversion team. They can assist with individuals who may be in distress and can provide transportation to social service agencies.
Extreme heat can be dangerous. Everyone should drink plenty of water even before feeling thirsty, and stay in a cool place. It is important to watch for symptoms of heat illness:
Rapid breathing and heartbeat
Decreased urination with unusually dark urine
Lack of sweat
Check on older family, friends and neighbours
Never leave people or pets inside a parked vehicle
Outdoor workers should take regularly scheduled breaks in a cool place
Water Bottle Filling Stations
Edmontonians needing potable drinking water can go to one of the water bottle filling stations that attach to fire hydrants. Water bottle filling stations give 24/7 access to potable water throughout the summer months. The water bottle filling stations will be available until October 5, 2023. Below is a list of all the water bottle filling station locations:
The City actively participates in the Sector Emergency Response, a collaboration between the City, Homeward Trust and more than 25 system and partner agencies working together to keep our vulnerable citizens safe and warm every night. The City and partners determine when it’s appropriate to activate the City’s extreme weather response considering weather conditions and existing capacity within community spaces for people experiencing homelessness to safely shelter.
Any activation is part of the Sector Emergency Response. The response runs every year from November 30 to April 1 and provides expanded shelter and services to those experiencing homelessness. In 2019, City Council approved a
that formalizes and clarifies the City’s role in the system-wide response to supporting vulnerable Edmontonians during extreme weather conditions.