Temporary homeless site raises concern among Don Mills residents

Published On May 16, 2018 | By Rucha Devarchetti | Life, News

The City of Toronto’s 59 shelter locations were used by more than 16,000 homeless people in 2015. (Matthew Woitunski/Creative Commons)

Rucha Devarchetti

Some Don Mills residents are upset about a city plan to create temporary homeless shelter space at the local Civitan Arena.

The indoor hockey rink, which is mostly not used during the warm months, will be converted into a temporary 24-hour respite site starting next week.

The move comes after a homeless shelter in the city centre was closed down for renovation and another reached full capacity. Lambton Arena in the west end, has already been converted into a temporary shelter, or respite site.

The indoor rink area at the Civitan Arena was cleared of ice and a new floor surface has been added. It will be used for housing 120 cots for the inhabitants. Both the arenas already have fully functional showers and washrooms. These locations have also been chosen due to their proximity to TTC routes.

“I feel that Don Mills being a part of Toronto, if Toronto has a problem, then Don Mills should be prepared to help,” said Jeff Simpson, member of Don Mills Civitan Board of Directors.

“I’m prepared to see if we can roll out a solution for a part of our Toronto family that needs help.”

However, not all residents are happy with the plan.

A flyer being circulated is urging people to raise objections to the shelter plan.

The City of Toronto received several letters from Don Mills residents with objections regarding the temporary respite.

Homeless man sitting on the street. Flickr/ Victoria Johnson

“We certainly heard and responded to a number of community members who are concerned with this,” Pat Anderson, the city’s spokesperson for Shelter, Support and Housing Administration, told Humber News.

“But we’ve also received emails and phone calls from people who see the need for it and are stepping forward wanting to help with the programming and with donations.”

A main problem voiced by some people is the safety of young children in the area.

Some are also concerned about the expensive lifestyle in the area, which the homeless people will not be able to afford. The residents’ worries are despite the temporary nature of the shelter since it will be used only till September.

Simpson says that his concern with the homeless people living in the arena is if they took over the existing public spaces in the community to make them less functional. But he is quick to dismiss the notion by saying that these people are likely to use the respite site for sleeping at night.

“This is a community that prides itself in being supportive,” said Simpson. “We do a lot of fundraising to put money back into programs and people to help groups. There is a lot of generosity in this community.”

Last week, the City of Toronto met with the Don Mills residents and presented their proposal for the site.

 

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