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Toronto officials call for added measures to bolster shelter beds for homeless

File photo of the Moss Park armoury.
File photo of the Moss Park armoury. Caryn Lieberman / Global News

The overcapacity of Toronto’s homeless shelters caused by the extended cold weather snap in recent weeks has forced city officials to call for additional measures to bolster the city’s shelter system.

Last month, city council voted to find 400 beds or sleeping spaces to mitigate Toronto’s growing need for shelters but voted down the addition of 1,000 new permanent beds in the system.

READ MORE: Toronto’s Moss Park armoury to be opened as winter respite site

But as the extreme cold weather worsened, the city moved to open temporary winter respite locations at the Better Living Centre and the Moss Park Armoury.

Mayor John Tory and several city councillors signed an open letter addressed to council members on Tuesday calling for action to ease pressure on the city’s shelter system.

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VIDEO: Cold weather concerns harm reduction workers at Moss Park pop-up site

Cold weather concerns harm reduction workers at Moss Park pop-up site
Cold weather concerns harm reduction workers at Moss Park pop-up site

READ MORE: Toronto opens two new 24-hour warming centres amid extreme cold warning

Some of the measures mentioned include extending the April 15 deadline for respite centre operations and reaffirming the city’s 90 per cent occupancy cap in shelters.

According to the latest statistics recorded on Jan. 15, the occupancy rate at shelter spaces in Toronto reached 96 per cent of total capacity.

READ MORE: Toronto opens winter respite service for homeless at Better Living Centre

The open letter also calls for a review of implementing 1,000 new permanent shelter beds in the system and the number of health and harm reduction workers available.

VIDEO: Toronto mayor revisits opening Moss Park armoury to homeless

‘It will have my support’: Toronto mayor revisits opening Moss Park armoury to homeless
‘It will have my support’: Toronto mayor revisits opening Moss Park armoury to homeless