Sub-zero temperatures ranging from –2 C overnight in Vancouver to –29 C in Fort St. John are triggered the opening of extreme weather shelters in communities across B.C.
This winter the province is funding 200 temporary beds across, but the City of Vancouver is yet to roll out its cold weather strategy and its shelters not expected to open until next week.
Lani Johnson of the Lookout Emergency Aid Society says that organization has already opened some emergency cold weather shelter spaces, but on Tuesday night the spaces filled up fast and some homeless people spent the night sleeping on the streets.
"It's extremely dangerous — one of the ways people are dying when they're living on the streets is from respiratory illnesses, pneumonia, the flu, and this comes when you are wet and cold," said Johnson.
The society is collecting donations for warm clothing to help homeless people get through the night.
Irene Jaakson, the executive director of the Downtown Eastside Neighbourhood house, says local outreach workers are trying to get the message out to anyone who is still on the streets.
"We ask that people come out of the cold. We ask that people get into contact with anyone who sleeps outside to help get the word out."
This winter the B.C. government is spending $1.5 million to fund an extra 1,100 spaces in 80 communities around the province during cold snaps, in addition to the 1,800 spaces funded in shelters year round.
Highways hit by dump of snow
The blast of winter has also created winter driving conditions on many B.C. highways, particularly in the interior and northern regions.
On Wednesday morning Environment Canada posted a heavy snowfall warning for some northern regions
As of 8 a.m. PT, there was blowing snow on Highway 37 between Terrace and Kitimat. There was also snow on Highway 16, east to Kitwanga, and it was snowing on Highway 97 from Prince George north to Mackenzie.
There were winter driving conditions on many highways in the central and southern interior as well, including the Trans-Canada Highway.