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Emergency shelter for Montreal homeless opens at former Royal Victoria Hospital

WATCH: A temporary homeless shelter at the former Royal Victoria Hospital site has been up and running for two days. As Global's Tim Sargeant reports, the shelter opened its doors to the media and the health minister for the first time Thursday.

The former site of the Royal Victoria Hospital in downtown Montreal is welcoming the city’s homeless into its new emergency shelter.

The third floor of the Ross Pavilion will accommodate up to 80 men and women. It will also provide a space for their pets, according to Quebec’s regional health authority.

READ MORE: Old Royal Victoria Hospital converted to emergency homeless shelter

“We’ve been able to move forward quickly on creating this emergency unit for homeless people,” said Montreal Mayor Valérie Plante Thursday.

“Of course, this is for this winter, but what is a positive sign is knowing that our administration, we want to find a solution on the long-term.”

“No one should be outside right now. Everyone deserves a roof.”

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The move comes after Montreal’s homeless shelters — including the Old Brewery Mission, the Welcome Hall Mission, Maison du Père and Accueil Bonneau — voiced concerns about overcrowding in their facilities during in the winter.

WATCH BELOW: Creating an emergency homeless shelter in Montreal

Emergency homeless shelter needed
Emergency homeless shelter needed

“We would put down mattresses on the floor of the cafeteria and we would have about 80 people lined up throughout the night,” said Old Mission Brewery president and CEO Matthew Pearce.

“It was inhumane and unhygienic.”

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The shelters have been consistently over capacity since the cold snap this past November.

READ MORE: Emergency shelter to open at old Royal Victoria Hospital for winter months

“Together we will provide a safe and dignified place for people who are homeless,” said Welcome Hall Mission president Sam Watts in a statement.

In Montreal, Watts estimates there are more than 3,000 people without a fixed address; many spending cold nights on the streets when shelters run out of beds.

Watts says the old Royal Vic is a temporary solution to help them sleep in a warm, dry and protected place.

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READ MORE: Record-breaking cold snap leaves Montreal shelters scrambling

“The solution to homelessness to really not to add emergency beds,” he said.

“The solution to the problem is to find ways of getting people quickly into apartments.”

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The four organizing shelters will delegate tasks between themselves to operate the emergency shelter.

WATCH BELOW: Montreal Mayor Valérie Plante welcomes the city’s homeless into its new emergency shelter at the former site of the Royal Victoria Hospital in downtown Montreal.

Valérie Plante welcomes homeless to emergency shelter at former Royal Vic
Valérie Plante welcomes homeless to emergency shelter at former Royal Vic

READ MORE: New emergency homeless shelter to help with winter overcrowding

The temporary shelter cost about $200,000 to build; the Quebec government provided $150,000 and the City of Montreal added $50,000.

The temporary shelter is expected to stay open until April 15, wherein government officials and the shelters will reassess.

WATCH BELOW: Montreal helping homeless population with new temporary shelter

Montreal helping homeless population with new temporary shelter
Montreal helping homeless population with new temporary shelter

rachel.lau@globalnews.ca

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