Provincial government to renovate former youth jail to help shelter Toronto's homeless

January 10, 2018
Article Source
The Globe and Mail

The minister responsible for Ontario's poverty reduction strategy says the province is renovating a former youth jail for use as a shelter for Toronto's homeless.

City officials last week asked for help managing an increased demand for shelter services amid a bitter cold snap and the federal government offered the downtown Moss Park Armoury as a short-term solution.

Ontario Housing Minister Peter Milczyn says provincial staff have identified the former York Detention Centre as the best, and only, provincial location that meets the city's needs.

Milczyn says substantial renovations, including to the building's heating, cooling, plumbing and electrical systems, will need to be made in order for it be used.

He says the renovations are being expedited and it is expected that the site could be operational as a shelter space the week of Jan. 29.

Milczyn says the provincial government will be asking Ottawa to extend the use of the Moss Park Armoury as a temporary respite centre until the former detention centre is operational.

"Given the urgency of the request, in recent days, we immediately began assessing the renovations and repairs that will need to be made to the site, which has not been used since 2009," Milczyn said in a statement Tuesday.

The city's specifications require a downtown location, with appropriate space and accessibility provisions, as well as bathroom and shower facilities.

The armoury was opened to the homeless last Saturday evening as the city faced a 13th day with an extreme cold weather alert in effect.

Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale had announced the previous day that the armoury could be opened as a temporary homeless shelter for two weeks.

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