The dangerously cold weather in Winnipeg looks like it’s here to stay for a while, and Winnipeg’s newest foot patrol is hitting the streets to help the city’s most vulnerable get through it.
The Downtown Community Safety Partnership’s (DCSP) CONNECT Team is braving the cold in teams with bags full of essential items such as food, water, winter accessories and face masks, and handing them out to anyone in need.
“I believe the resources, right now, they need them the most,” CONNECT team lead Aditya Sharma said.
“Everyone is in survival mode,”
The DCSP CONNECT Team, formerly the Downtown Winnipeg BIZ WATCH, was formally established last spring.
The foot patrol provides front-line non-emergency response and assistance.
During the cold snap, the teams are waiting for calls to come in through their two-way radios, but are actively searching popular gathering spots, such as bus shacks, to find people they aren’t getting reports for, but still need help.
Aside from handing out essential items, they are also trying to appropriately connect people to available resources.
Team members say they can handle the bitter cold temperatures for a shift if it means helping someone that doesn’t have a home to warm up in.
“It’s not even about me to start with, it’s about the people we could help during this time.” CONNECT team member Jogrett Senesie said.
“Imagine if I’m in my room and having all the coziness to myself. That’s not helping anyone.”
However, crews do get some relief from outside while searching the city’s skywalk, which attracts vulnerable Winnipeggers in the winter time.
“When it’s this cold they will come inside walking around the skywalk,” said Matt Halchakar, a member of the DCSP MAC247 team. “It’s a great way for us, if they are in here, to connect with them, tell them what we could offer, have full conversations with them inside.”
Extreme wind chill values below -40 have been recorded in the Winnipeg area Monday.
Environment and Climate Change Canada has issued an extreme cold warning and expects extreme cold to persist for a few days.
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