City fast-tracks opening of Moss Park Armoury emergency shelter to Saturday night

5:56 p.m., Jan. 5, 2018. Paul Raftis (at podium), general manager for Shelter Support and Housing Administration, speaks to reporters at city hall on Friday night. Deputy city manager Giuliana Carbone (left), city manager Peter Wallace (middle left), director of Service System Planning & Integrity Unit Mary-Anne Bédard (middle right), and director of Real Estate Services David Jollimore (standing right).

Jan 6, 2018

By Arianne Robinson

The City of Toronto announced it has moved up the open date of the Moss Park Armoury to Saturday at 7 p.m. “This is our 13th day of extreme cold weather, which is contributing to the demand on our system,” said Paul Raftis, general manager for Shelter Support and Housing Administration.

Raftis said there were 190 people at the Better Living Centre on Friday night, causing the city to expand the capacity there to 200 spaces – an increase from the 150-space capacity announced on Wednesday. The Regent Park Community Centre will also expand capacity from 100 spaces to 180.

“Out of an abundance of caution, we’ve taken action with our contingency plans to put more resources in place to ensure everyone who wants to come in out of the cold has a place to go,” Raftis said.

Mayor John Tory’s office updated his schedule at the last minute on Saturday to make the announcement that the armoury would be open Saturday night, more than a day earlier than the Monday morning opening announced by city staff the night before. The Moss Park Armoury is located at 130 Queen St. E., on the northeast corner of Queen and Jarvis Sts.

“Upon receipt of the permission to use the armoury for the two-week period the city staff were able to move within hours, quite literally, to have it open for use this evening.” Mayor John Tory said.

Tory also took the opportunity to commend staff involved. “I want to, as the mayor, on behalf of all the people, thank everyone for their efforts. They are what makes Toronto a great, caring city.”

Tory also praised the city bureaucracy. “I especially want to take note of the extraordinary efforts of the entire city machinery, and by that I mean there are multiple departments involved in this – from shelter and housing staff, to first responders, to people from children’s services, all the way through the entire city organization. They have stepped forward to work nights, to work overnights, and these are people that often aren’t even involved in the shelter system directly but have agreed to do so because extraordinary circumstances required extraordinary effort.”

Raftis said the Wellesley Community Centre (495 Sherbourne St.) will be open overnight if all other locations are at capacity.