Toronto: Shelters on alert as weather turns ugly FWD

Tom Boland (wgcp@earthlink.net)
Fri, 13 Nov 1998 06:10:58 -0400


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http://www.thestar.com/back_issues/ED19981111/news/981111NEW01_CI-HOME11.html
FWD  Toronto Star - November 11, 1998

`Until they enact the emergency bylaw, the medical officer of health has no
power to deal with this as an emergency. That bylaw would enable the
armoury to open in hours.' -- Cathy Crowe, community health nurse

`We just have to help people get off the street who don't want to be out
there. On nights when the wind is really high like this, it's dangerous.'
-- Toronto Mayor Mel Lastman


SHELTERS ON ALERT AS WEATHER TURNS UGLY

Medical officer worries about the homeless,
calls for extra beds

Homeless speak out about the hard life on the streets

By  Jennifer Quinn and Catherine Dunphy
Toronto Star  Staff Reporters


 City shelters declared an emergency, extra beds were squeezed into all
available spaces, and police on patrol watched out for the homeless in the
first weather alert of the season.

 The emergency was declared yesterday after forecasters warned of high
winds and lashing rain that would make conditions on the street intolerable
for those without a home or a warm place to sleep.

 ``We have alerted all the shelters - and there's about 30 of them - to
take extra measures and to put up extra space for those that do come, to go
above their normal limits if need be, and to set aside some of their
curfews and other rules that might normally apply,'' said John Jagt,
director of Toronto's hostel services division.

 The emergency was precipitated by a combination of bad weather and lack of
shelter spaces in the city's facilities, Jagt said.

 On Monday night, 99 per cent of the city's shelter beds were full, he said.

 Jagt hopes new shelter spaces will be opened in the next few weeks to help
alleviate another crisis when the cold weather hits.

 At a meeting of Toronto's board of health, medical officer of health Dr.
Sheela Basrur agreed to call an emergency weather alert, which allowed the
shelters to set up cots in common areas and relax curfews.

 Toronto police posted notices and officers on patrol were asked to look
out for homeless people who might be in trouble.

 At drop-in centres, TTC tickets were handed out to the homeless so they
could get to emergency shelters. The extra measures made room for another
100 or so people in the city's shelters.

 Normally, weather emergencies are declared when the temperature drops
below minus 15 Celsius.

 ``Anything we do today is a Band-Aid solution,'' Basrur said.

 Mel Lastman, at a party to celebrate his first year as mayor of a unified
Toronto, said it was imperative that more hostel beds be opened.

 ``We just have to help people get off the street who don't want to be out
there. On nights when the wind is really high like this, it's dangerous,''
he said.

 At yesterday's board of health meeting, Councillor Joan King (Seneca
Heights) asked the city to open up either the Moss Park Armoury or Metro
Hall to accommodate people without shelter.

 ``We're hearing that cars are going to be blown off the roads,'' she said.

 Captain Tim Lourie, public affairs officer with the Canadian Forces 32nd
Canadian Brigade Group, which uses the Moss Park Armoury, said the city
telephoned the armoury yesterday to inquire about the feasibility of
opening it as a shelter.

 But he said they hadn't received a formal request, which is required
before they can open the facility. But he added that the Canadian Forces
would make the space available as quickly as possible if one was received.

 The Out of the Cold program, in which local churches open their doors and
provide meals and beds, was a little busier than normal, but still had
plenty of room.

 Knox/First Nations Gospel's Out of the Cold program, at Harbord St. and
Spadina Ave., is usually aimed at young people, but was accepting adults
last night for a dinner of roast beef and hot soup, along with a bed for
the night.

 ``We're doing fine, but we do have more people than usual,'' Vicki Wood,
co-ordinator of the church's program, said yesterday evening. ``But we're
not full by any means.''

 At the meeting, Basrur promised to review the emergency weather program
and the recommendation the city set up an infirmary for the homeless, more
detoxification centres and smaller hostels for specific segments of the
homeless population, such as people who are HIV positive.

 ``I know we sit here looking like we don't care,'' said Councillor Anne
Johnston (North Toronto). ``But we have no money.''

 About 30 members of the homeless community attended the meeting. More than
half of them made deputations to the board about the health and safety
dangers of living on the street.

 Community health nurse Cathy Crowe begged the board to activate more
emergency measures than just last night's weather alert.

 She wanted the board to ask the emergency planning committee to enact the
emergency resources bylaw.

 ``Until they enact the emergency bylaw, the medical officer of health has
no power to deal with this as an emergency,'' she said.

``That bylaw would enable the armoury to open in hours.''

 She said there are 200 people living in the Don Valley, 100 under the
Gardiner Expressway, 200 in squats throughout the city, and 20 to 30 who
sleep in High Park.

 Toronto Hospital emergency room physician Dr. Joel Lexchin said many
homeless people use the hospital's emergency departments as hostels.

 ``They come with trivial complaints, but when the weather is minus 10
degrees, we don't throw them out. They have nowhere else to go,'' he said.

 He said homeless people suffer from hypothermia, not only because of cold
weather but also because of how wet they are, how hungry they are, what
kind of clothing they have on and what kind of medicine they may be taking.

 Street Health outreach worker Beric German wanted the board to keep the
Moss Park Armoury open until there are other facilities for the homeless.

 He called for a bigger budget to deal with the crisis and bylaw changes to
allow mobile homes.

END FORWARD
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receiving the included information for research and educational purposes. **

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http://www.thestar.com/back_issues/ED19981111/news/981111NEW01_CI-HOME11.html

FWD  Toronto Star - November 11, 1998 


`Until they enact the emergency bylaw, the medical officer of health
has no power to deal with this as an emergency. That bylaw would enable
the armoury to open in hours.' -- Cathy Crowe, community health nurse


`We just have to help people get off the street who don't want to be
out there. On nights when the wind is really high like this, it's
dangerous.' -- Toronto Mayor Mel Lastman



<paraindent><param>right,left</param>SHELTERS ON ALERT AS WEATHER TURNS
UGLY


Medical officer worries about the homeless,

calls for extra beds


Homeless speak out about the hard life on the streets


By  Jennifer Quinn and Catherine Dunphy

Toronto Star  Staff Reporters

</paraindent>


 City shelters declared an emergency, extra beds were squeezed into all
available spaces, and police on patrol watched out for the homeless in
the first weather alert of the season.


 The emergency was declared yesterday after forecasters warned of high
winds and lashing rain that would make conditions on the street
intolerable for those without a home or a warm place to sleep.


 ``We have alerted all the shelters - and there's about 30 of them - to
take extra measures and to put up extra space for those that do come,
to go above their normal limits if need be, and to set aside some of
their curfews and other rules that might normally apply,'' said John
Jagt, director of Toronto's hostel services division.


 The emergency was precipitated by a combination of bad weather and
lack of shelter spaces in the city's facilities, Jagt said.


 On Monday night, 99 per cent of the city's shelter beds were full, he
said.


 Jagt hopes new shelter spaces will be opened in the next few weeks to
help alleviate another crisis when the cold weather hits.


 At a meeting of Toronto's board of health, medical officer of health
Dr. Sheela Basrur agreed to call an emergency weather alert, which
allowed the shelters to set up cots in common areas and relax curfews.


 Toronto police posted notices and officers on patrol were asked to
look out for homeless people who might be in trouble.


 At drop-in centres, TTC tickets were handed out to the homeless so
they could get to emergency shelters. The extra measures made room for
another 100 or so people in the city's shelters.


 Normally, weather emergencies are declared when the temperature drops
below minus 15 Celsius.


 ``Anything we do today is a Band-Aid solution,'' Basrur said.


 Mel Lastman, at a party to celebrate his first year as mayor of a
unified Toronto, said it was imperative that more hostel beds be
opened.


 ``We just have to help people get off the street who don't want to be
out there. On nights when the wind is really high like this, it's
dangerous,'' he said.


 At yesterday's board of health meeting, Councillor Joan King (Seneca
Heights) asked the city to open up either the Moss Park Armoury or
Metro Hall to accommodate people without shelter.


 ``We're hearing that cars are going to be blown off the roads,'' she
said.


 Captain Tim Lourie, public affairs officer with the Canadian Forces
32nd Canadian Brigade Group, which uses the Moss Park Armoury, said the
city telephoned the armoury yesterday to inquire about the feasibility
of opening it as a shelter.


 But he said they hadn't received a formal request, which is required
before they can open the facility. But he added that the Canadian
Forces would make the space available as quickly as possible if one was
received.


 The Out of the Cold program, in which local churches open their doors
and provide meals and beds, was a little busier than normal, but still
had plenty of room.


 Knox/First Nations Gospel's Out of the Cold program, at Harbord St.
and Spadina Ave., is usually aimed at young people, but was accepting
adults last night for a dinner of roast beef and hot soup, along with a
bed for the night.


 ``We're doing fine, but we do have more people than usual,'' Vicki
Wood, co-ordinator of the church's program, said yesterday evening.
``But we're not full by any means.''


 At the meeting, Basrur promised to review the emergency weather
program and the recommendation the city set up an infirmary for the
homeless, more detoxification centres and smaller hostels for specific
segments of the homeless population, such as people who are HIV
positive.


 ``I know we sit here looking like we don't care,'' said Councillor
Anne Johnston (North Toronto). ``But we have no money.''


 About 30 members of the homeless community attended the meeting. More
than half of them made deputations to the board about the health and
safety dangers of living on the street.


 Community health nurse Cathy Crowe begged the board to activate more
emergency measures than just last night's weather alert.


 She wanted the board to ask the emergency planning committee to enact
the emergency resources bylaw.


 ``Until they enact the emergency bylaw, the medical officer of health
has no power to deal with this as an emergency,'' she said.


``That bylaw would enable the armoury to open in hours.''


 She said there are 200 people living in the Don Valley, 100 under the
Gardiner Expressway, 200 in squats throughout the city, and 20 to 30
who sleep in High Park.


 Toronto Hospital emergency room physician Dr. Joel Lexchin said many
homeless people use the hospital's emergency departments as hostels.


 ``They come with trivial complaints, but when the weather is minus 10
degrees, we don't throw them out. They have nowhere else to go,'' he
said.


 He said homeless people suffer from hypothermia, not only because of
cold weather but also because of how wet they are, how hungry they are,
what kind of clothing they have on and what kind of medicine they may
be taking.


 Street Health outreach worker Beric German wanted the board to keep
the Moss Park Armoury open until there are other facilities for the
homeless.


 He called for a bigger budget to deal with the crisis and bylaw
changes to allow mobile homes.


END FORWARD

- 

** NOTICE: In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, this material is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes. **


HOMELESS PEOPLE'S NETWORK  <<http://aspin.asu.edu/hpn/>  Home Page

ARCHIVES  <<http://aspin.asu.edu/hpn/archives.html>  read posts to HPN

TO JOIN  <<http://aspin.asu.edu/hpn/join.html> or email Tom <<wgcp@earthlink.net>

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