After tragedy struck in Edmonton last week when a person died from exposure to the recent extreme cold, one Edmonton city councillor decided to push to open Edmonton’s LRT stations so people can take shelter from the weather.
Aaron Paquette brought the motion forward on Tuesday Feb. 6. And the rest of council agreed to provide protection to its more unfortunate citizens.
“Like most Edmontonians, I assumed that when the weather dropped down to, like minus-20, that we just would automatically open our LRT stations so that people would have some kind of respite, some kind of shelter from freezing temperatures.
“What happened, earlier this week, is really tragic. Within the proximity of one of our stations, a man froze to death.”
When Paquette heard the news that the man had died, the city councillor began to question why the stations weren’t open.
The reason that the stations weren’t open, he discovered, was that officials were waiting for shelter beds to fill up to 90 per cent before the opening of the LRT stations was triggered.
Right now, however, only one of 24 stations are open—central station, said Paquette. The city, so far, is just monitoring the other stations for the time being to see if anyone around those locations are in distress.
The first night about two dozen people came in for the night at the central station, while others stopped by just to warm up. People from the community were coming by with hot chocolate, sandwiches and pizza.
Central station will remain open for the next seven days, and then a review of the situation will take place. Paquette also asked for a strategy for a policy “to ensure we’re never in this situation again.”
The irony is, that Edmonton LRT stations are already open 21 hours a day, said Paquette.
“We had to have this debate over three hours of time to stay open.” Sometimes you have policies that make sense on paper, but in real life they don’t, he said.
Paquette says the new challenge is to expand to other LRT stations to cover more of the city.