The City of Toronto is taking an unconventional, yet innovative approach to dealing with the growing number of refugees and homeless individuals who are in need of temporary shelter.
Paul Raftis of the city's Shelter, Support and Housing Administration division announced during a press conference on Wednesday that Toronto is purchasing four sophisticated, prefabricated structures to be used as 24-hour respite sites this summer and beyond.
The structures, which consist of aluminum frames covered with durable polyurethane fabric, will cost the city $2.5 million each — not including the expenses associated with managing them as shelters.
Here's a better look at the concept art for the city's upcoming temporary shelter structures: pic.twitter.com/LBjmHmHTdq— Lauren Pelley (@LaurenPelley) June 6, 2018
Sticker shock aside, Raftis says they're actually quite cost-effective in terms of increasing both capacity and service quality.
Each tented structure will be insulated, accessible year-round, and can house up to 100 people each. They come equipped with washrooms, cots, televisions, laundry and dining facilities.
Those who make use of the Alberta-produced shelters will have access to showers, plumbing, electricity, air conditioning and heating.
Perhaps even more importantly, the structures include spaces for administrative offices to provide those experiencing homelessness with service referrals.
Toronto is activating an emergency contingency plan to shelter refugee claimants as it prepares for an influx of migrants this summer. Over 27,000 asylum seekers have crossed the Canada-US border since Trump came to office. https://t.co/XZUfyFCSs3 pic.twitter.com/fIDtk6GUFf— Andrew Stroehlein (@astroehlein) May 24, 2018
Raftis says the city will start installing the structures in vacant areas that have yet to be identified starting this August. They will replace the emergency centres set up this winter at Toronto's Exhibition Place and Moss Park armoury.
"We’re looking for large vacant areas that would be parking lot type areas where you can put these because you want to have a proper hard foundation for it to sit on top," he said to reporters on Wednesday.
"They are very flexible in terms where you can put them around the city, assuming you had the appropriate sized parking lot or space to put them," he continued. "We're not targeting putting these in parks."
by Lauren O'Neil via blogTO