City to open Warming Centres tonight to help those experiencing homelessness
At 7 p.m., Tuesday night, the City of Toronto opened its four Warming Centres to give those who are vulnerable and may be experiencing homelessness an additional place to rest and access snacks, washroom facilities and referrals to emergency shelter.
Warming Centres are traditionally activated when the City, in consultation with the Medical Officer of Health, issue an Extreme Cold Weather Alert (ECWA) based on a forecast from Environment and Climate Change Canada of minus 15 degrees Celsius or colder.
While the temperature forecast has not reached this threshold, the City is activating the Warming Centres tonight in an abundance of caution due to colder nighttime temperatures, snow forecasted over the next few days and because this is the first spell of colder weather of the season. The Warming Centres are currently scheduled to remain open, 24/7, until Friday at noon.
In addition to the Warming Centers, the City’s Streets to Home outreach team will dispatch additional 24/7 teams to connect with people living outside and encourage them to come indoors. Staff will also hand out blankets and sleeping bags.
Residents should contact 311 if they see a person experiencing homelessness in need of assistance and the City will dispatch an outreach team to investigate. If the person is in distress or needs immediate assistance, call 911.
Space will be offered at the following:
- 129 Peter Street
- 5800 Yonge Street
- Exhibition Place, Better Living Centre, 195 Princes’ Boulevard
- Scarborough Civic Centre, 150 Borough Drive
All services at the Warming Centres will be delivered following ongoing COVID-19 protocols to ensure the safety of those using the centres. This includes encouraging physical distancing and the mandatory use of masks, ensuring hand washing, conducting symptom screening and monitoring, increasing infection control and prevention measures such as enhanced cleaning, and providing isolation and recovery sites for individuals that await results or test positive to recover.
The Warming Centre spaces are being opened as part of the City’s 2020/2021 winter services plan to help those experiencing homelessness. This is the first year that the City has offered more than one Warming Centre, which will increase access to these services across Toronto.
In addition to Warming Centre capacity, through the winter plan the City is opening approximately 620 additional spaces through a combination of shelter and 24-hour respite beds, hotel rooms and housing units with supports. This is on top of the City’s base shelter system, which provides more than 6,000 spaces for those experiencing homelessness each night.
The winter plan will be in effect until April 2021. The need for services will be monitored and the City will adapt as required to respond to changing circumstances.