ALRET: Seattle Noise Ordinance

Graeme Bacque (gbacque@idirect.com)
Thu, 14 Oct 1999 04:34:37 -0400


The Toronto Star October 14, 1999

Workers plead to keep shelter open
West-end homeless have no alternatives to armoury beds

By Catherine Dunphy
Toronto Star Feature Writer

If you close it, people will die.

That was the message yesterday from a group of front-line workers with the
homeless, two months before the federal government is scheduled to shut down
its 150-bed temporary homeless shelter at the Fort York Armoury, and one day
after the Throne Speech dealt with the issue of homelessness in a single
sentence.

``We have no confidence (the federal government) will keep shelters open and
that lives won't be threatened,'' said outreach worker Beric German at the
armoury yesterday.

Toronto's shelters have been jammed all summer and there are already people
sleeping on mats in hallways at some hostels, German said. When the armoury
closes, people will have to sleep outside.

Gordon (Billie) Smith, 50, may be one of them. It took him 1 1/2 weeks to
get a place in the armoury. Some of those nights, staff found another bed
for him. On others, he slept outside.

``Honestly,'' he said, ``I don't know where I'll sleep when they close the
armoury.''

German says he doubts the city will be able to shelter all the homeless when
the armoury is closed. ``We have a very simple message: Keep this shelter
open,'' he said.
But Canadian Forces spokesperson Maj. Stephane Grenier said yesterday that
the army plans to move back into the armoury on Dec. 15.

City officials confirmed last week they wouldn't be needing it, he said.

``We were told we would notice a decrease in the number of people using the
armoury starting Nov. 15.''

Although the city's shelter manager acknowledges that Toronto's emergency
shelters have been full for weeks, John Jagt has also stated there will be
675 new beds in place before winter, and that Toronto will have 2,900 beds
for use when the Fort York shelter closes.

Mayor Mel Lastman won't be asking for an extension for the armoury shelter,
said Jim Warren, the mayor's spokesperson, yesterday.

``We're going to open up 675 new beds (by the time it closes), and they will
be better suited to take care of the homeless,'' Warren said. ``The armoury
was always temporary.''

But the community workers say that number won't be enough to shelter all the
homeless this winter.

``Our numbers are up 15 to 20 per cent from last summer,'' said Michelle
Heath, executive director of The Meeting Place, a drop-in centre at Bathurst
and Queen Sts.
The armoury is the only homeless shelter in the west end. No plans for new
shelters in the area have been announced.

``We are seeing huge increases in numbers,'' said Laura Cowan, executive
director of Street Health. ``We are scared to death of what we are going to
see in the next few months.''