Today the City announced the opening of a new 24/7 emergency shelter at The Better Living Centre in Exhibition Place. At present, services are available for up to 20 individuals but when fully operational in mid-January, the shelter will have a total of 100 beds.

As the local city councillor for the area, I welcome this news as do the residents of Ward 19. In my role as a member of the Exhibition Place Board, I worked with staff to find the space and am glad that we are now able to provide respite for 100 individuals experiencing homelessness in our city.

These beds, in combination with the additional 300 spaces City Council directed staff to provide, will go a long way in ensuring there are warm, welcoming, and safe places for individuals experiencing homelessness this winter.

But, we need to do more.

Mayor Tory and Council could have done better by opening the armouries – which are larger and would have provided more beds and better facilities.

Furthermore, 400 temporary beds for only part of winter does not go far enough. Front line workers estimate the City would need to open 1000 new shelter beds to meet the standard of 90% shelter occupancy across all sectors.

In a city as prosperous and vibrant as Toronto, we cannot ignore the most vulnerable. We must take action and work with front-line experts to make sure that all Torontonians have access to a safe place to sleep this winter and beyond.