Norman Wells, N.W.T. now has an emergency warming and cooling centre where residents can take shelter during extreme weather conditions.
The facility will open when the temperature is below -40 C or above 31 C. It will also open when smoke levels are deemed "high risk" by Environment Canada. It has been ready for residents since Feb. 7.
Norman Wells community mobilization coordinator Ella Gillin took the lead on the project. She said that the warming and cooling centre will have snacks, warm and hot drinks, and comfortable places to sit and relax.
The warming centre is located in a house at 11 Falcon Ave., just outside of downtown Norman Wells.
Imperial Oil owns the housing unit, and has leased it to Norman Wells for free for one year. The company is also covering heat and electricity costs for the facility, according to Norman Wells Mayor Frank Pope.
The unit is also housing Norman Wells' community food pantry.
"We had a [community] food pantry that ran just out of our town office, so we wanted to grow what we had started," Gillin said.
Ella Gillin, an employee with the Town of Norman Wells who took the lead on the heating and cooling centre, said she hopes it will be "a safe place in extreme conditions" for all residents of the community. (Submitted by Ella Gillin)
"The users of our food pantry will be the main users along with other people, just so they always have a safe place in extreme conditions, and just to make sure that the people in our community are taken care of."
According to an announcement from the Town of Norman Wells, the facility will only open on days that meet the town's criteria for extreme temperatures or dangerous air quality.
On those days, opening hours will be Monday to Friday, from 10 a.m. to noon, and 2 p.m. to 5 p.m.
But Mayor Frank Pope said that depending on the availability of staff or volunteers, he is hoping that the town will be able to relax temperature cut-offs and expand opening hours as needed.