News Release
February 20, 2024

The City of Toronto is preparing to gradually close its temporary 24-hour respite program at the Better Living Centre. As was shared in December, Exhibition Place requires the facility back to prepare for another booking.

The temporary respite site at the Better Living Centre will stop accepting new admissions as of February 20. The City is working to transfer clients to other spaces within the shelter system and those who have filed claims for refugee status will have the opportunity to transfer to hotels outside of Toronto operated by Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC). The respite program at the Better Living Centre will fully conclude by March 15.

Opened gradually as a 240-bed respite, in response to increased demand when temperatures dipped to extreme cold levels in January, the site expanded to serve 300 people and has been operating at full capacity since it opened in December. The City extends its thanks to Exhibition Place for its partnership in helping the City provide these services.

Offsetting with adjusted services

To help offset the closure of the respite program at the Better Living Centre the City will open spaces at other sites until the end of the winter season. In mid March, the Warming Centre at 75 Elizabeth St. will transition to a 24-hour respite program serving clients 24/7 until April 15. In addition, Metro Hall will open as a Warming Centre with capacity for approximately 45 people when temperatures reach -5 degrees Celsius or when Environment Canada issues a winter weather event warning.

Winter Services Plan

As announced in the December update to the Winter Services Plan, the City worked with Exhibition Place to make the Better Living Centre available as a 24-hour respite site for people experiencing homelessness. As noted in December, Exhibition Place requires the facility back by March 25 to prepare for another contracted booking.

The City is encouraged that so many people were helped by the services made available at the Better Living Centre. The City recognizes more supports like this are needed and that is why the Winter Services Plan continues to evolve to address the ongoing challenges faced by people experiencing homelessness.

All other winter spaces announced as part of the Winter Services Plan remain in effect until April 15 including:

  • 180 spaces added in the shelter system
  • a 24-hour winter respite site with capacity for 50 individuals identifying as males and a 24-hour respite site for approximately 30 youth clients
  • Activating four Warming Centres when temperatures reach -5 degrees Celsius or colder
  • Opening additional surge spaces when temperatures reach -15 degrees Celsius.
  • 140 extra operating hours at 10 City-funded drop-in locations added throughout the city for the winter season
  • Additional street outreach teams that are dispatched when temperatures reach minus 15 degrees Celsius encouraging people to come indoors
  • Ongoing work to tenant 275 housing units available throughout the winter

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