The Better Living Centre adds beds for Toronto’s homeless News

By: Joe Amodio

The City of Toronto is taking steps to deal with its homeless crisis by transforming the Better Living Centre at Exhibition place into a shelter.

John Tory announced on Thursday the Better Living Centre will be used as a 24/7 shelter for those that need it most as the temperatures drop.

The 2,000-square foot building located just across from BMO Field will be equipped with approximately 20 beds and host about 100 people today. More beds are expected to be added in the new year.

In a press release, Toronto Councillor James Pasternak said homelessness is a real issue for the city.

“Homelessness is becoming the social crisis of our time. It is incumbent on the City of Toronto to do everything in its power to restore dignity of those who are suffering and save lives, the opening of the Better Living Centre is another vital strategic move in this direction. Thanks to the mayor and city staff for leading and supporting this initiative,” Pasternak said.

According to the City of Toronto there are more than 16,000 people who used the city-administered emergency shelter system in 2016. Eleven per cent of shelter users stayed for more than a year, using 61 per cent of capacity.

“We are moving as quickly as possible to address the unprecedented demand on the shelter system,” Tory told reporters.

The move to open a new shelter was introduced after city council approved a plan this month to spend $10.6 million to add 400 new beds to the city’s new homeless shelters.

Toronto Centre-Rosedale Councillor Kristyn Wong-Tam has previously said that 400 new beds will not do enough to address the crisis, however councillor Joe Mihevc, said it is definitely a step in the right direction.

“This new respite service will help us move towards our goal of dramatically reducing occupancy rates. Our next step will be for staff, council and the community to focus on getting the permanent shelter beds open, and in the longer term, to ensure supportive housing is available,” Mihevc said.

Recent Comment

  1. Christine Smaller

    Thank you for this important article. I am the minister at Birchcliff Bluffs United Church – which is the church behind where Fox is being photographed. We have had some concerns raised about how a church could ignore such a terrible plight, which is a very valid question. If anyone is interested, please see our post at: https://www.facebook.com/bluffschurch/posts/806808132858906

    Here is part of it:

    We are touched by the compassion and empathy this wonderful community has raised about Fox, who is currently living on the bench near our church. This gentleman, who plays the guitar and chats with folks on the street, is well known to us. Many of our wonderful congregants such as Cathy Williamson, Michelle Threndyle and Gail Barkic have spent time with him and provided him with food, coffee and conversation. He has made it clear that (like many folks out there) he does not wish to come into the church, but knows that we are there for him at all times. We respect his choice on this matter. Fox is also aware of options relating to shelter and other programs.

    Our congregation is rich in love, hard work and faith – but we are not overflowing with material resources in any way. We offer whatever we can to the community through our ministries including Toby's Place (https://www.facebook.com/tobysplacebbuc) a queer and trans positive drop in for youth and By the Bluffs Foodbank (www.bluffsfoodbank.com) which feeds 400 families a week.

    If anyone would like to get involved in serving the community with us, I would be very glad to speak with you. Likewise, if anyone is in need, we encourage you to get in touch. My direct phone number is 416-578-4551 and my personal e-mail is revcsmaller@gmail.com.

    You can also find out more about our congregation on our website: www.bbuc.ca

    God bless,

    Rev. Christine Smaller

    https://www.facebook.com/bluffschurch/posts/806808132858906

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