As directed by City Council, Staff at the City of Toronto are working to find up to 15 new emergency shelters in neighbourhoods across the City. These new beds are essential to provide service to the growing number of people who experience homelessness, as well as to replace shelters that are moving or need to be redeveloped. Staff have recommended a new 24-hour men's shelter with supportive services be built at 731 Runnymede Road in Ward 11 (just North of Ward 13's boundary). This location was chosen based on the requirements of the Municipal Shelter By-law, which include being on a minor arterial road with access to transit.
- The shelter will be operated by City staff
- It will provide 24/7 services including: meals, counselling/case management, assistance to find housing, and access to employability programs for up to 100 men.
- The shelter will be fully compliant with the Toronto Shelter Standards once it is renovated.
- A Community Liaison Committee consisting of local residents, shelter staff, Councillors, Toronto Police, clients and other stakeholders will be struck prior to the shelter opening.
If approved by Council, work is expected to be complete in the first quarter of 2017 and a Community Liaison Committee consisting of local stakeholders, shelter staff and clients will also be struck several months before the opening. It will allow for input on the interior and exterior design, and ongoing communication between the shelter and broader community.
Municipal by-laws require residents in the immediate area (250 metres) of a proposed shelter to be notified in writing and for one public information meeting to be held (It was held on May 31st). In Ward 13, only part of Maria St (Runnymede to Gilmour) fell within the 250 metre radius of the proposed shelter.
I know that residents in the northern part of Ward 13 have some concerns about this shelter and want more information. I am hearing loud and clear that people want to know how this proposal will impact their neighbourhoods.
Decisions about this new shelter will ultimately be made at City Council at the July 12-13-14 meeting, following review at the Community Recreation and Development Sub-Committee on June 23. Because of the urgent need, City Council has never voted against opening a homeless shelter.
As residents you do have a choice. You can simply say no to this shelter and most likely have it pass at Council anyway, or we can work with City Staff, the Ward 11 Councillor and the broader community to address concerns and find solutions that work.
Ward 11 Councillor Frances Nunziata will host a second information meeting, which I will attend. It will be held Thursday, June 9th, at Archbishop Romero Catholic Secondary School, Cafeteria (99 Humber Blvd. S), starting at 7:00 pm.
I will also be hosting an information meeting with City staff for Ward 13 residents:
Monday, June 13, 2016
7:00 pm – 8:30 pm
Annette Community Recreation Centre (Gymnasium)
333 Annette St.
The development of new homeless shelters and other social services can stir up a great deal of emotions wherever they are planned. Indeed, I have been hearing from those who recognize the necessity of helping the homeless and from others who do not believe the City should be providing these services at all.
Debates about locations for shelter support are not unique to our neighbourhood, and are happening right across the City. Toronto is facing a housing crisis, with over 95,000 households on a ten-year long waiting list for affordable housing. Shelter use has increased every year since 2011. Our existing emergency shelters are unable to meet the need and the results have been tragic: Reports of men freezing to death in a bus shelter near Yonge and Dundas and in the back of a truck at Davenport and Lansdowne shocked the city in winter 2015. Here in our ward we have reports of people forced to sleep in parks and schoolyards and there are encampments along the rail line.
I know our community to be compassionate and pragmatic and I am listening to your thoughts, ideas and concerns. Working together we can find a way to meet our obligations while at the same time building liveable, prosperous and healthy neighbourhoods.
I want to thank everyone who has taken the time to write, call or message me about this important issue.
City Councillor – Ward 13
Next steps in the process:
- June 13: Ward 13 Information meeting
- June 23: Community Recreation and Development Committee considers the shelter proposal. To register to make a deputation or submit comments, email the Committee Clerk: firstname.lastname@example.org
- July 12-13-14: City Council meets to consider shelter proposal
- Why are you putting a shelter in Ward 11?
- What is the proposal?
- I don't like this recommendation, what can I do about it?
- Has City Council ever voted against a staff-recommended shelter location?
- What if I have concerns about the shelter during its operation?
- What about the park near the site?
- How do we know local people are being helped?
- How can I be involved?
- Tell me about the shelter system
- What is the timeline for opening this shelter?
- What is the process for locating a shelter?
- Will clients screened for prior convictions including sexual assault?
- Are any variances required?
- What are the City standards for the number of square feet per person?
- When can residents tour the space?
- What happens when a shelter client is charged with an illegal activity?
- Are clients coming from Seaton House?
- Are there security cameras?
- What do the men do in the daytime?
- If the shelter is full, where do the men go?
- Where will clients smoke?
- My child walks to school by herself. Will she be safe?
- What’s going to happen to property values?