The City of Toronto is opening Warming Centres tonight at 7 p.m. to give those who are vulnerable and may be experiencing homelessness a safe, warm indoor place to rest and access snacks, washroom facilities and referrals to emergency shelter. Tonight, a fourth Warming Centre will open at Cecil Community Centre.
Warming Centres are one way the City works to keep vulnerable people safe during winter weather. Located across the city, Warming Centres can accommodate more than 140 individuals who may be experiencing homelessness. Since announcing the Winter Services Plan in November, City staff have continued to explore opportunities to secure additional sites to maximize spaces available for those in need. Working with community partners, the City was able to confirm the fourth Warming Centre location at Cecil Community Centre.
Located next to Kensington Market, Cecil Community Centre is a non-profit, multi-service neighbourhood centre offering services to local residents. The Warming Centre will open tonight at 7 p.m. and will be equipped to welcome up to 30 people in need of a safe, warm place to rest.
All City Warming Centres will open tonight at 7 p.m., and stay open until further notice:
Today’s announcement will mean the total warming centre capacity is now 142 spaces, and capacity downtown is up to 75 spaces. This is on top of the more than 9,000 emergency shelter spaces the City operates every night to help residents.
The City’s Streets to Homes Program has also dispatched additional 24/7 teams to connect with people living outside and encourage them to come indoors. Throughout the winter, outreach staff hand out blankets, sleeping bags and warm winter clothing.
The City’s Warming Centres are generally activated when an Extreme Cold Weather Alert (ECWA) is called by Toronto’s Medical Officer of Health based on a forecast from Environment and Climate Change Canada of -15 C or colder, or a wind chill of -20 C or colder. The Medical Officer of Health issued an Extreme Cold Weather Alert for Toronto today in anticipation of colder weather conditions in the next 24 hours or longer.
If someone arrives at a Warming Centre that is at capacity, assistance with transportation to another Warming Centre is provided.
The City also operates seven 24-hour respite sites. These sites provide essential services to individuals experiencing homelessness in an environment that prioritizes ease of access to safe indoor space. These services include resting spaces, meals and referrals to additional support programs.
As well, the City supports several drop-ins that provide a range of services that may include access to snacks and meals, healthcare, showers, laundry, information and referrals, and social and recreational activities to people who are experiencing or at risk of homelessness. More information about drop-ins is available on the City’s Homeless Help webpage.
The City’s network of shelter locations, 24-hour respite sites and Warming Centres can provide overnight emergency accommodation to more than 9,000 people experiencing homelessness.
“In the winter months, and all year, ensuring our city is supporting our most vulnerable fellow residents is my top priority. The addition of a fourth Warming Centre site will help many, especially those in the downtown core, and it is a testament to what’s possible when all community partners work together to create solutions.”
– Mayor John Tory
“These additional Warming Centre spaces will mean warm, restful respite for many people in need. Thank you to the dedicated staff and other partners for their work to make these new spaces available. Thank you to the folks at Cecil Community Centre for the generous use of their facility and to Councillor Saxe for her leadership.”
– Councillor Shelley Carroll (Don Valley North), Chair of the Economic and Community Development Committee
“I’m delighted to have worked together with the Cecil Community Centre to nearly double downtown Warming Centre capacity. With the weather getting colder, it’s more vital than ever that the community come together to find warm, safe spaces for our most vulnerable.”
– Councillor Dianne Saxe (University-Rosedale)
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