LEVY: Now you see it, now you don’t!

A 24-hour respite shelter on Don Mills Rd. closed barely 60 days after it opened, and $195,000 was spent to refurbish it for use by transients and their pets, say internal city emails obtained by the Toronto Sun.

Amid protests from local residents over a lack of consultation, city officials picked the Don Mills Civitan arena as a 120-bed respite shelter to replace space at 348 Davenport Rd. and the Better Living Centre.

According to a news release sent out in April, it was to open May 21 and remain open for approximately four months.

Internal emails say that the arena had capacity for 120 and was considered a location “for those experiencing homelessness to find a welcoming place to rest, meals and service referrals.”

Local residents were quickly painted as NIMBYs by the poverty advocates for daring to be concerned.

A local resident, who wished to remain anonymous, said the clients were spotted sitting out back of the arena using drugs and urinating against the high-end restaurants in the Shops at Don Mills (next door to the arena).

But they need not have worried for long.

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According to internal emails, despite efforts by the city to transport all people and their pets and their belongings to the Civitan site, it housed 49 people on May 24, 36 people on July 6 and 34 people on July 11.

The e-mails show that city shelter staff kept reducing the capacity first to 90 on June 27 and then 60 on July 8.

On July 25, it was closed and clients transported and referred to “other services” according to the emails.

City spokesman Pat Anderson said the arena was already equipped with washrooms and showers, but needed ramps installed for the disabled, the placement of a plywood cover over the ice pad, some electrical and fire system upgrades and installation of temporary A/C — at a cost of $195,000.

She at first told me it was “always going to be vacated by the beginning of August” but subsequently said they vacated when another shelter program was identified to accept the remaining clients.

Anderson confirmed that $105 was the per diem for that site but didn’t really answer whether money was wasted on the operational side, contending that their respite site budget is “based on system-wide expectations of occupancy.”

(That suggests to me they over-budgeted.)

She did say that the city hired two TTC buses — at a cost of $2,600 each — to move the “vulnerable clients” from the 348 Davenport Rd. site to the Civitan arena.

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Source:: Toronto Sun – Movies