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Preparing to spend Christmas in a tent

Last Updated Dec 18, 2017 at 7:37 pm EDT

A Toronto woman who has a chronic disorder that makes her extremely sensitive to chemicals and environmental pollutants is preparing to spend the holidays in a tent because she has no place to live that will accommodate her condition.

Danni Storr suffers from multiple chemical sensitivity (MCS), which can cause severe physical reactions when exposed to certain chemicals, such as perfumes, cleaning products and personal hygiene products.

As CityNews previously reported, Storr felt forced to leave her job and moved into a tent months ago, because of her illness.

Two weeks ago, when asked about Storr’s living situation, Mayor John Tory said it’s not acceptable for anyone to be in a tent in our climate and he pledged to “undertake a review of her file.”

On Monday, the mayor’s office said city officials have been trying to reach Storr to arrange for assistance but it’s proven to be difficult. “We haven’t received Ms. Storr’s contact info and don’t have a signed consent form,” said the mayor’s office in a written statement.

A 2007 report commissioned by the Canadian Human Rights Commission states that approximately three per cent of Canadians have been diagnosed with environmental sensitivities, and both the Canadian and Ontario Human Rights Commissions recognize certain environmental sensitivities as a disability with a right to accommodation.

“For myself, I’m pretty much homebound, I don’t really get out unless it’s in the summertime,” says Bonita Poulin, who also suffers from MCS and left her job and moved from Brockville to rural Ontario because her symptoms got so severe.

Poulin’s advice to Storr is to leave the city. “We have to become self-sufficient and just stop waiting for other people to solve our problems… we’ve got to stop waiting around for somebody else to stop using perfume or for landlords to stop using pesticides and stop being so reliant on municipal affairs, and start looking after themselves,” adds Poulin.

The City of Toronto’s Homeless Initiatives and Prevention Services department says they have assisted people with MCS in the past and it hopes it can help Danni find a housing solution. Officials recently reached out to Danni to offer their services but she declined, saying she is afraid the accommodations won’t be safe for her.

“I kept telling them that I can’t go to a shelter because a lot of the things used in shelters will make me sick,” said Storr. But she is still hoping that city officials will find her safe, chemical-free accommodations for the holidays. “It’s just scary waking up in a tent… it literally looks like an ice cave.. so if I was hoping to be camping in an ice cave, it would be great but that’s not what I was hoping for.”