City of Thunder Bay Cold Weather Response PlanThe goal of the City of Thunder Bay COVID-19 Cold Weather Response Plan is to help prevent health impacts of cold weather conditions on residents of Thunder Bay during the COVID-19 pandemic, with a particular focus on people experiencing homelessness.

The plan’s objectives are to:

  • Alert those most vulnerable to cold weather conditions that are either expected or currently exist;
  • Help those most vulnerable to take appropriate precautions; and to
  • Support the plans of community partners, helping coordinate responses to cold weather in the community of Thunder Bay.

Learn more about winter weather and health impacts, COVID-19, local warming centres, and overnight shelters: 

 Winter weather

Winter weather poses a significant risk to exposed individuals, and weather warnings can help people prepare for dangerous weather.

Winter storms, blizzards, snowfall warnings, and snow squalls involve large amounts of falling or blowing snow, creating dangerous driving and walking conditions, reduce visibility, and can cause power outages.

Freezing rain is rain that freezes on impacts, and creates a thin layer of clear ice on the ground, making things slippery and dangerous! The cold rain can also soak through clothes, and make health problems like hypothermia more likely for people outside.

Extreme cold and wind chill are always dangerous, and create risks of hypothermia and frost bite. Wind chill can make the air feel even colder, and can quickly cause frost bite in any exposed skin.

 Health impacts of winter weather

Frostbite and hypothermia are known as cold illnesses, health problems caused by exposure to cold weather. Frostbite can cause permanent injury, and hypothermia can kill.

Learn how to identify and respond to these risks:


Warning signs:

  • Most often affects fingers, toes, ears or nose
  • Loss of Feeling or numbness
  • Skin is hard or waxy to the touch
  • White, grayish-yellow skin
  • Blistering may occur after thawing

How to respond:

  • Move to warm room
  • Remove wet clothing
  • Wrap in dry blankets
  • Do not thaw skin if there is a risk of re-freezing
  • Severe frostbite requires immediate medical attention, call 911


Warning signs:

  • Irrational behaviour
  • Slowed heartrate
  • Feeling cold
  • Slurred speech
  • Shivering
  • Clumsiness
  • If shivering stops, or the person starts feeling warm despite still cold, seek help immediately.

How to respond:

  • Seek a warm space
  • Wear warm, dry clothes
  • If warm space is unavailable, call 911! Hypothermia can be a life threatening condition.

COVID-19 is a respiratory virus caused by a newly discovered (novel) coronavirus. The virus was first discovered at the end of 2019 and in March 2020, the World Health Organization declared a global pandemic. The risk of COVID-19, like the cold and flu, increases in the winter months. Additionally, people experiencing homelessness or people that are under-housed are at a greater risk for COVID-19 as it may be challenging to isolate and respond.

Symptoms of COVID-19 include:

  • A new or worsening cough
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Shortness of breath
  • Difficulty swallowing
  • Sore throat
  • Runny nose / nasal congestion
  • Chills
  • Unexplained fatigue / muscle aches
  • Headache
  • Nausea/vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal pain
  • Loss or decrease of sense of taste or smell
  • Pink eye (conjunctivitis)

If you think you have COVID-19 symptoms or have been in close contact with someone who has it, use this self-assessment to help determine if you need to seek further care.

Take the COVID-19 Self Assessment

Find the most recent information on COVID-19, including guidance on prevention, testing, and responding, on the Thunder Bay District Health Unit’s website.

 Warming centres and overnight shelters

Warming Centre PACE

  • 510-512 Victoria Ave E.
  • 8:00am – 8:00pm (7 days per week)
  • If warming centre is at capacity, time inside will be limited to 30 minutes to allow others to come into warm up. Washrooms, food and beverages available.
  • Active COVID screening upon entry.

Grace Place

  • 235 Simpson Street
  • Daytime: 7 days/week from 9:00am – 4:00pm (Until March 14, 2021)
  • Overnight: 7 days/week from 9:00pm – 8:00am
  • Overnight shelter is only available for people that are restricted from all other shelters. Day shelter is only available to people that spent the previous night at Grace Place. People can use showers, do laundry and sleep during the day.
  • Active COVID screening upon entry.

Shelter House

  • 420 George Street
  • 24 hours/day, 7 days per week, EXCEPT mealtimes
  • Clients that are staying overnight at Shelter House can stay inside during the day (except at meal times).
  • Active COVID screening upon entry.

Salvation Army

  • 545 Cumberland Street N.
  • 24 hours/day, 7 days a week
  • Day services and hot meals are for clients only (24/7 access). For emergency shelter, clients that have accessed services in the past 6 months should come after 5:30pm; new people can access at any time.
  • Active COVID screening upon entry.

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