Toronto is opening two new winter respite services this weekend which will be able to shelter up to 200 homeless people.
The announcement comes as the Moss Park Armoury is set to close on Monday.
At a news conference on Thursday, Coun. Joe Cressy announced a shelter will open at 348 Davenport Rd., near Dupont Street, on Saturday at 4 p.m.
After April 15, the site will be renovated as an accessible permanent shelter with up to 90 beds, and health and other support services.
The province has also made 354 George St. available until April 15. The site, which will be operated by Homes First Society, will begin accepting the homeless by 10 a.m. on Sunday.
The city will provide transportation to the two sites or other shelter beds for those staying at the Moss Park Armoury.
“Working to ensure these locations are located seamlessly in communities, and are part of their communities, is a collective effort which requires the cooperation and the sensitivity of every single Torontonian just as it is the responsibility of everyone to fight homelessness,” Mayor John Tory said in a statement.
Proud to announce a new shelter in the Annex today, alongside Former Governor General and local resident Adrienne Clarkson, local resident Margaret Atwood, the Annex Residents Association, and other community members: https://t.co/8zVTxYUzbr
— Joe Cressy (@joe_cressy) January 25, 2018
The city continues to grapple with expanding shelter spaces for the homeless, especially during the cold winter months. Critics have said there is a lack of adequate shelter for the homeless, which prompted both the City of Toronto and its ombudsman to launch formal investigations.
On Tuesday, Ontario Health Minister Eric Hoskins said the province is working with the city to improve access to health services for people who are homeless or using shelters. Toronto is beginning with a project in five new shelters across the city that will provide more than 300 beds to vulnerable people with often complex health needs.
The new initiative comes at a crucial time as concerns are being raised over how the shelters are dealing with the health issues of the homeless.
On Wednesday, a man died after an outbreak of the what appears to be flu at Seaton House — Toronto’s largest homeless shelter. The cause of the man’s death has not been confirmed but it’s believed he was among 28 people at the shelter who have exhibited flu-like symptoms.
The city is also investigating after a homeless man was sent to hospital from the Moss Park Armoury shelter on Sunday.
With files from The Canadian Press