For the first time ever, Toronto is opening up its massive Better Living Centre to those who are homeless and in need of shelter.
Mayor John Tory announced the 24/7 winter respite service today, noting that up to 20 individuals will be accommodated within the city-owned building immediately.
By mid-January, the shelter space on the grounds of Exhibition Place will have a capacity of about 100.
The move comes amidst what many are calling a homelessness crisis in Toronto. An influx in demand has seen local shelters reach 95 per cent capacity city wide, resulting in a rash of bed shortages and increased pressure on Toronto to open up its armouries.
And we welcome the emergency space, but 100 beds for only part of winter is not enough - Mayor and council should have opened armouries. https://t.co/5I0n6FdKdQ— Mike Layton (@m_layton) December 21, 2017
Seventy homeless Torontonians have already died this year according to Councillor Kristyn Wong-Tam, who voted in favour of opening 400 more shelter beds as soon as possible during an emotional city council meeting on Dec. 6.
City council voted 39-3 to make more beds available, even it means using hotels/motels to protect people from the deadly cold, and authorized $10.6 million for this to happen as soon as practically possible.
A total of 234 spaces will be available by mid-January, according to a press release issued by the city on Thursday. The other 166 beds will come along in the weeks following that.
"When it comes to our shelter system, we must do the right thing, in the right way," says Tory. "It is critical that we get all 400 spaces in place as soon as possible and I know that everyone involved understands that urgency."
by Lauren O'Neil via blogTO