Mixed reaction to planned Leslieville men’s shelter

Salvation Army, area councillor expect neighbourhood to be welcoming

Reactions to a planned Salvation Army men’s shelter in Leslieville were mainly positive at a meeting held over the weekend, but skepticism remained among some of the area’s residents.

“Most of the feedback we have gotten has been positive,” said Andrew Burditt, a public relations representative at the Salvation Army. “But we have heard some concerns about the alleyways next to the building and the type of clientele we would be dealing with.”

Burditt says these concerns are understandable but they arise from inaccurate information and possible misconceptions.

“We will have to do some renovations to the facility.  There will be security cameras monitored at all times, added lighting and staff will be on-site 24/7,” he said.

He added that those using the site should not all be lumped into one category.

“When a client comes to the shelter for the first time they will be registered and we will provide assistance to them with programs that meet their specific needs.  Twenty-five to 30 per cent of those who use shelters are often employed, but cannot afford rent on their own.”

Local city councillor Mary-Margaret McMahon posted a Facebook message in which she called on the neighbourhood to show the same generous spirit to the ward’s very first shelter that they have shown to Syrian refugees.

The new shelter is being sought to replace the Hope Shelter at College and McCaul streets which closed last year and would have a capacity of 80 beds.

Use of shelters in Toronto has increased 11 per cent over the past four years as cost of living continues to rise across the city.

A report on the proposed shelter is due to be presented to city council on Jan. 27 with a council vote expected in early February.