The City of Grande Prairie says a number of locations are up and running for those needing a place to escape the cold. Housing and Homeless Initiative Supervisor Katherine Schmidt says day and night programs at Rotary House are available for short and longer-term stays, with a secondary mat program launched at the Oasis Church in case the Rotary House faces capacity issues.

“I feel Grande Prairie this winter is in pretty good shape as far as having everything in line, and we are always watching to see what the numbers are in for our two drop-in programs, the numbers in regards to our mat programs, making sure we are well aware of what’s going on in our community.”

Schmidt says when the temperatures drop to the bone-chilling degree felt recently, the city also has plans in place to provide transportation in between sites if needed.

“We are going to use taxis if we need… an assessment is done on whether or not there is bed space at Rotary House first, and currently, there are bed spaces there, but if it gets overcapacity and someone needs to get transported over to the second location we are prepared to do that.”

She adds the Friendship Centre is also lending a big hand for anyone in need, with three meals a day being served to anyone who needs a warm meal. It will also remain open late into the evening for those needing to escape the cold.

Other locations like the Eastlink Centre, Grande Prairie Public Library and the Prairie Mall are also welcoming those looking to get in from the cold. Schmidt urges members of the community to also keep eyes and ears open for anyone who may need a hand throughout the cold stretch.

“You may see someone pushing a walker or wheelchair, and though it may not look like a big distance to get from their car into the mall, giving someone a hand or offering to carry a parcel, just giving some support can be very helpful in ensuring they get out of the cold.”

The temperatures are expected to hover around minus 30 degrees without a windchill until at least January 18th.