This week, Toronto City Council voted against a motion to keep warming centres open 24/7 this winter for those who live on the street. The Toronto Public Board of Health made the motion. Torontonians have been freezing to death outside when the warming centers were closed (they only open when it is -15C outside). Over 100 people died without homes last year. The votes were pretty close. Some were tied, others were narrowly lost. Still, the deadly status quo continues. What all councillors agreed on is that the City should ask faith communities to open our doors to become warming centres. So, a city-level problem is expected to become our responsibility now. This will no doubt cause considerable debate among churches, mosques and temples. We have a hard time finding volunteers for most of our own activities, much less running a 24/7 warming centre with clients who often require professional help. I expect to be in talks with faith leaders over the next week about this. For now, you can help by looking at how the voting went, and contact your city councillor to congratulate or express your concerns. The vote tallies can be found at the bottom of this webpage. The Councillors in this area who voted against opening new warming centres represented the wards of Don Valley West, Eglinton-Lawrence, Don Valley East, and Don Valley North. Thank you for caring. Thank you for caring.
Here is a sample of an email you can send.
Dear Councillor X,
I am writing you as a constituentwho [lives/works] in your ward. I am disappointed to learn that the motion to provide warm spaces to people experiencing homelessness did not pass at the Council meeting on February 8. I understand that you voted against this motion and I wanted to contact you personally to express my concern with your vote. We know from medical research that most cold-related injuries happen when it is much warmer than the City’s current cut off of -15 degrees. I worry that your vote has threatened the health of our most vulnerable neighbours and fellow Torontonians. I urge you to consider this evidence and, if you are presented with the opportunity to vote on this issue again, to vote in favor of warm spaces being available 24/7 on a drop in basis from now until April. I also encourage you to find room in the budget for more support for those experiencing homelessness.
I look forward to your response,