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Moss Park armoury opens doors as winter respite location

Last Updated Jan 7, 2018 at 12:08 am EDT

Moss Park Armoury opened its doors as a winter respite location sooner than expected on Saturday evening.

The federal government gave the City of Toronto permission to open the Moss Park Armoury as a 24-hour winter respite centre for vulnerable people on Friday.

Late Friday afternoon, the City announced the Armoury won’t be open until Monday as it needed at least two days to get everything properly set up.

But on Saturday afternoon, Mayor Tory announced that the Armoury as well as other locations will be opened the same evening in response to “unprecedented demand and continuing extreme weather conditions.”

According to a release from the City of Toronto, city staff were given access to the federally owned Armoury at 9 a.m. Saturday and immediately began retrofitting the facility to meet the immediate needs of those seeking shelter from the bitter cold.

The location will remain open for two weeks and has 100 cots available. When it’s fully up and running, the location will provide access to meals, showers and hygiene kits as well as referrals to additional resources like case management and housing support, the city says.

In addition to opening the Moss Park Armoury, the city has increased the capacity and number of beds at other winter respite locations.

The Better Living Centre has increased capacity to 200 immediately and an additional 80 cots have been added to the Regent Park Community Centre. The Wellesley Community Centre will also remain open overnight to provide additional space in case all other locations are at capacity. In addition, anyone can come in from the cold at all public buildings during regular business hours, including civic centres and libraries.

Saturday marked the 13th day an extreme cold weather alert called by Toronto Public Health is in effect.