Open the armouries for shelter
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Toronto's shelter system is full and people are routinely turned away. The overflow, volunteer-run Out of the Cold program is similarly full. Last winter, the two 24-hour warming centres were overcrowded, sleeping people inches away from each other on mats on the floor. A serious Strep A outbreak has resulted in a loss of over 100 shelter beds. Hundreds of people are abandoned, forced to sleep outside in parks, ravines, under bridges and on sidewalks.
In the past, the Mayor of Toronto requested the Minister of National Defence for use of Fort York and Moss Park armouries for emergency shelter four separate times. Each time the Mayor asked, the federal government said yes and hundreds of people were able to access safe shelter.
Opening the armouries will prevent deaths.
- Mayor, City of Toronto
Hello Mayor Tory,
The homeless emergency does become more dire in this weather. I’ve been a Street Nurse for something like 28 years and this winter I am shocked by the level of crowding in both the shelter system, the Out of the Cold program, and this will be evident in the two warming centres as of December 15. The warming centres are no longer enough to meet the need.
I am even more shocked by the way people outside are hunkered down because they know there is nowhere to go. I took this picture this week as an example. It’s unacceptable.
In the past I worked with former Mayor Lastman and Miller’s office to help create a bit more shelter relief and that was in the form of utilizing the Armouries. At various points in time the reservists, Red Cross, city workers and Salvation Army provided staffing, appropriate cots and blankets and food at the Armouries. It was similar to an operation should there by an ice storm, people stranded by a plane crash or fire, etc.
This winter, an immediate relief measure is only a phone call away. Mayor Tory you could request Harjit Sajjan, the Minister of National Defence, to allow the city to use one or both of the federal armouries for an emergency shelter. Thanks to Mayors Mel Lastman and David Miller the Fort York and Moss Park Armouries were opened four times, sheltering hundreds and undoubtedly saving countless lives.
Please help save lives and prevent further injury.
Cathy Crowe, RN Street Nurse
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