Toronto opens 2 new winter respite centres as Moss Park armoury closes doors

The city has opened two new winter respite services this weekend in an effort to provide warm and safe spaces for Toronto’s homeless.

City to provide transportation to new respite facilities for existing armoury clients

The George Street winter respite facility began accepting clients on Sunday. (CBC)

The city has opened two new winter respite services this weekend in an effort to provide warm and safe spaces for Toronto's homeless.

Combined, the city says the two new facilities will provide spaces for up to 200 people and both centres are expected to be open until April 15.  

"Winter respite services are not a replacement for permanent housing, but the city is doing its best to provide safe and warm spaces for vulnerable people," councillor James Pasternak said in a city press release. "We need to be able to offer services to anyone who requests them and with these two new services in place, we will continue to be able to do that."

The two new facilities that opened this weekend will provide spaces for up to 200 people. (CBC)

The George Street respite facility opened Sunday morning, while the Davenport centre began accepting clients on Saturday.

When the Davenport location closes for the season, it will re-open by the end of the year as a permanent shelter with 90 beds for adults.

Renovations are expected to start in late April, and once completed, the city hopes the shelter will integrate various support services.

Temporary Moss Park site to close

The city asked for federal help through the province to use the Moss Park Armoury as a winter respite service until April 15, but the federal government agreed to let the city use the facility until Jan. 29 while the provincial government prepared the George Street facility for use as a respite site.  

"The province worked quickly on renovations to prepare the building, including upgrades to the heating, plumbing and electrical systems," Bob Chiarelli, Ontario's minister of infrastructure, said in a press release. "Given this winter's extreme cold weather, we are pleased that we can help the most vulnerable citizens in our society."

The city says it will provide transportation from the Moss Park Armoury to the two new respite centres or shelter beds for all of the temporary shelter site's clients.