In an outstanding demonstration of leadership, Toronto Councillor Joe Cressy stood alongside former Governor General Adrienne Clarkson and representatives of the Annex Residents Association to announce a new homeless shelter will be coming to Davenport and Dupont.
For many city councillors, shelter announcements present a moment of dread. But they shouldn’t be. Cressy reminds us that shelters are a community asset. “Unless we as a City proactively build shelters,” he notes, “not only will there not be space [for homeless people], but our communities will not become inclusive and mixed income communities, which they ought to be.”
No consultations required
In a CBC radio interview Cressy correctly stated “the decision to open a shelter does not require consultation, nor should it.” Since 2004, Toronto’s Shelter By-law has allowed homeless shelters to be created on any major or minor arterial road in the City “as of right,” provided it is at least 250 meters from another shelter.
In April 2017, City Council approved a new engagement and planning process for emergency shelters. The process affirms that “the focus of engagement will be on planning for and improving the service to be delivered, not approving it.”
We all know the urgent need to create new shelters in all parts of Toronto. We cannot let unfounded fears of “the other” put homeless people in jeopardy, or deprive them of their most basic right to shelter.
Councillor Cressy has been brave enough to say out loud what we all know to be right. Councillors McMahon, Crawford, Layton, and others have also braved opposition to support shelters in their wards. Time for all Toronto Councillors to do the same.