The City of Hamilton’s cold weather arrangements came under some sharp criticism over Christmas Eve. Social media accounts lit up , first when it was learned that the city’s warming places in the various rec centres would close at 4PM, meaning homeless persons would have to go back out into the cold until 10PM when an overnight warming location would open at the Hub on Vine street. Library branches which also serve as warming centres were closed due to the ice storm. Then it was learned that the Hub would close on Christmas Eve due to lack of funds. Meaning there was no shelter available except for some of the local missions.
In the middle of all this the city issued a statement that the cold alert which had been declared a day earlier, was cancelled, even though it was bitterly cold with strong winds. The cold weather alert is triggered when the temperature drops, or is expected to drop below -15°C (5°F) or the temperature feels like -20°C (-4°F) with wind chill and is rescinded when the temperatures rise above those thresholds. It also meant that the HUB under the terms of its contract with the City would not be allowed to open.
Many of the social media posts were critical of the City for not having a better cold weather plan in place for homeless persons.
Luckily the Hamilton Community Benefits Network came up with the funds to allow the hub to reopen its warming shelter on Christmas Eve.
Ward Two Councillor Cameron Kroetsch who was on a week’s vacation, promised to take the matter up with staff at the earliest opportunity.