The City of Toronto opens two new winter respite services with combined capacity of up to 200 to ensure there continues to be sufficient warm and safe places for those in need.
A winter respite service at 348 Davenport Rd. will begin accepting clients on Saturday, January 27 at 4 p.m.
Operated by City of Toronto staff, the Davenport facility will provide winter respite services until April 15. It will then undergo renovations and will re-open by year-end as a permanent new shelter with up to 90 beds for adults.
The Province of Ontario has also made 354 George St. available as a winter respite service until April 15. This site will be operated by Homes First Society, one of the City’s community partners with years of experience in the provision of homelessness services. The service will begin accepting clients by 10 a.m. on Sunday, January 28.
City staff will provide transportation to these two sites or shelter beds to all clients of the Moss Park Armoury, which was made available by the federal government as a temporary shelter site until Monday, January 29.
“I want to thank the federal and provincial governments for their assistance as we respond to this unprecedented demand on the Toronto shelter system,” said Mayor John Tory. “The Moss Park Armoury was made available until the provincial government readied the George Street location, and we now have two new respite sites for those in need.”
“Winter respite services are not a replacement for permanent housing, but the City is doing its best to provide safe and warm spaces for vulnerable people,” said Councillor James Pasternak (Ward 10 York Centre), Chair of the Community Development and Recreation Committee. “We need to be able to offer services to anyone who requests them and with these two new services in place, we will continue to be able to do that.”
In early January, the City sent a request for federal assistance through the province, asking to use the Moss Park Armoury as a winter respite service through to April 15. The federal government agreed to this use until January 29 while the provincial government readied its property at 354 George St. for use by the City as a replacement winter respite site to be operated until April 15.
Renovations at the Davenport site are planned to start in late April and staff will design a permanent program to meet the standards set out in the new shelter model. This includes integrating health supports and wraparound support services such as housing, employment, case management and more. It will also include engaging residents, organizations such as libraries and community centres as well as businesses to identify ways that the local community can come together and support people staying at the shelter.
City staff are continuously monitoring winter respite drop-in service and warming centre usage to manage occupancy levels and ensure there is sufficient safe capacity to provide warm places for all who ask for them.
— Pat Anderson