Twenty-six of the 100 beds available at the Moss Park armoury were occupied as of 4 a.m. Sunday morning, the City of Toronto says.
Toronto Mayor John Tory announced Saturday that the armoury would open that night, two days earlier than planned, due to the “unprecedented demand and continuing extreme weather conditions.”
Tory said staffers gained access to the armoury at 9 a.m. Saturday morning and immediately began “retrofitting the facility” to be able to properly function as a winter respite centre.
Community advocates had been calling for the facility to be opened for weeks. A petition garnered over 35, 000 signatures.
“Activation went smoothly with the opening of the Moss Park Armoury as of 7 p.m. last night,” a statement released by the city said Sunday.
“With this, and the increases in warming centre and respite capacity, as well as additional outreach teams on the road overnight, there were services available for everyone wanting a warm and safe place to go.”
The Wellesley Community Centre was opened as an “overflow warming centre” but the city said it was not required as there was only one person using the facility as of 4 a.m.
The centre will now be “returned to its primary purpose of community-based programming.”
However, warming centre services at Metro Hall and Regent Park Community Centre will continue to run on a 24/7 basis.
City officials said 160 of the 200 available at the Better Living Centre were occupied last night.
Outreach teams offered services to 44 people, but only three accepted.
The armoury will remain open 24 hours a day for the next two weeks.
Federal officials said the Moss Park site is a temporary location and that the Ontario government is looking at a longer-term solution.
Environment Canada ended an extreme cold warning for Toronto and the surrounding GTA Sunday morning, as most of the province has been gripped by bitter cold temperatures for the past few weeks.
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