Tory calls for the addition of 400 new shelter beds to help relieve a 'challenging situation'
If the plan is approved, some of the beds would be ready in a matter of days
The city may see 400 beds added to shelters "as soon as possible" if a proposal is passed at city council this week, Mayor John Tory announced Sunday.
"As we move into the winter it's clear we're facing a very challenging situation," said Tory said at city hall.
If the plan is approved, some of the beds would be ready in a matter of days, and all 400 should be available in the coming weeks, Tory said.
This proposal is on top of the 291 shelter beds in five new shelter programs that the city is looking to open next year.
The extra spaces are estimated to cost $10 million, which will be coming out of the city's reserve funds according to Tory.
The city expects to have 5,651 beds available by the end of the year, over 1,000 more than what it offered two years ago.
Tory also announced that the city would be expediting the construction of three new permanent homeless shelters, which will now open next year instead of in 2019 as previously scheduled.
5,400 people using shelter beds every night
In November, approximately 5,400 people used city shelters every night, which is 30 per cent higher than this time last year.
Last week a group of faith leaders asked that the city declare a state of emergency in its shelter system, on top of adding 400 beds and 1,000 more shelter spaces by the end of the year.
But Tory said he has been advised by city staff that a declaration of an emergency would "not represent a proper use of the law."
"It is meant for situation when city council cannot meet, and we are meeting this week."
As well as asking shelters to find extra space for beds, Tory said they would be using hotel rooms to house the homeless.
The lack of affordable and supportive housing is contributing to the issue said Tory. He also mentioned that refugees coming into the city represent a "significant portion" of people using shelters, but said that doesn't explain the overall increase in use.
The mayor pointed out that despite the huge growth in population the city, between 2007-2014 capacity at Toronto shelters didn't change. During 2015 and 2017 over 1,000 shelter beds were added to the system.
With files from The Canadian Press.