November 9, 2018

Temporary Respite Structures for 24-Hour Services


The City of Toronto is facing high demand for low-barrier 24-hour respite services. Council directed staff to ensure adequate spaces are maintained to meet this need. It is challenging to find buildings to house these services that meet provincial standards for accessibility, that offer washrooms, showers, and other amenities, that have well-functioning heating and ventilation systems and that are located close to public transit and other services. The time and cost involved in completing renovations to meet these standards is also a challenge.

To provide high-quality, accessible respite services in 2018/2019, City staff have secured three semi-permanent structures manufactured by Canadian company Sprung Instant Structures Ltd, with an option for a fourth. These can be operational in locations across the City as part of the 2018/2019 Winter Respite Plan. These 24-hour respite sites will be installed by BLT Construction Services.

The system is modular and can be constructed to satisfy Shelter, Support and Housing Administration performance requirements. These are insulated, all-weather buildings constructed with a high-performance tensioned fabric and fibreglass on an aluminum frame. The building system is durable and can be dismantled, moved and installed on an alternate site if required. Consequently, this building system can add resiliency not only to Toronto’s shelter system, but also to its emergency response capacity more generally.

For the 2018/19 winter, a minimum of 600 spaces in 24-hour sites will be available.  280 of these spaces will be provided in the Sprung structures.

Companies – Sprung & BLT

Sprung Instant Structures Limited

  • Sprung is a Canadian company, founded in 1887 in Calgary, Alberta
  • Sprung now has 10 offices around the world, including two in Canada (Aldersyde, Alberta and Toronto, Ontario)
  • Manufacturing is done in Alberta
  • Sprung has built more than 12,000 structures in over 100 countries

BLT Construction Services

  • Construction/installation of Sprung structures is a proprietary patented system and is supplied by Sprung in partnership with BLT Construction Services Inc.
  • BLT is a Canadian company that has been in business for more than 20 years. It has offices in Toronto and Vancouver.

Sprung Structures – Uses & Examples

  • In use in communities across Canada, the U.S., and the world for a range of purposes, including temporary housing, emergency shelters, churches, arctic stations, aquatic centres, gyms, classrooms, and fire stations.
  • Local example: Bayview Glen private school in Toronto has established a Sprung structure as its gymnasium. (photos provided) They are planning to build another to house a swimming pool.
  • Emergency shelter example: The City of San Diego has been using Sprung structures for over a decade as an emergency shelter.

City of Toronto – 24-Hour Respite Sites

Locations & Timing

  • Information about services will be sent to local communities in advance of open house meetings to share information, hear from nearby residents and businesses, and build local support for these important services.
  • The first confirmed location is 701 Fleet Street, near Strachan Ave. and Lakeshore Blvd West. Crews are working towards an anticipated opening date of April 2019.
  • The City has leased 545 Lakeshore Blvd West, at the southeast corner of Bathurst and Lakeshore Blvd West for use as a temporary 24-hour respite site starting in September 2018 and remaining open until the Fleet Street structure is completed.
  • The plan is to convert the Lakeshore facility to a shelter for women and couples but to retain 100 cots at this location as contingency 24-hour respite site space should it be required.
  • Another location is 69 Fraser Avenue – part of the parking lot at the rear of Lamport Stadium. It opened on December 22, 2018.
  • The third location is 351 Lakeshore Blvd East.

Program Description

  • 24-hour respite sites are low-barrier, pet-friendly facilities that serve people experiencing homelessness. They provide essential supports (including meals, service referrals and places to rest) in an environment that prioritizes ease of admission to safe facilities.

Structure Description

  • Insulated, all-weather building.
  • High-performance tensioned fabric and fibreglass on a non-corroding aluminum frame.
  • Full connections to municipal services for water, sewers, electrical service and gas.
  • Full heating, ventilation and air conditioning.
  • Telephone and City of Toronto IT network connection.
  • 150 x 60 feet.
  • Each structure can accommodate 100 people, plus staff.


Each structure will have:

  • Full plumbing (e.g., no chemical toilets)
  • 7 showers (3 women’s, 3 men’s, 1 gender neutral/accessible)
  • 14 toilets for clients (6 women’s, 4 men’s toilets and 2 urinals, 2 gender-neutral / accessible) and 2 staff washrooms
  • Laundry facilities for clients
  • Cots
  • Dining and common area with TVs
  • Storage rooms
  • Full food server for dispensing food and a food pantry (meals will be prepared offsite and brought in by a contracted catering company)
  • Sky lights for natural light
  • Secured staff area on main floor with mezzanine administrative offices


  • Approximately $2.5 million per site

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Media contact: Greg Seraganian, Shelter, Support and Housing Administration, 416 397-4431,