A large office building at 5800 Yonge St. –just north of Finch Ave. — the City of Toronto budgeted $3 million for back at the beginning of February to hold it on a contingency basis to be used as a shelter remains empty.
“It’s always empty,” said a Korean student to True North. He says he often smokes at one of the benches at the front of the property after class.
“We’re cleaning it for the shelter,” said a building maintenance worker working for a company contracted by the City.
“We’re still working on it,” he said, adding a lot of work still needs to be done.
The old North York hydro building is owned by a Markham-based condo developer who bought the building back in April of 2018 according to the Toronto Sun.
“The property is owned by a third-party, who approached the City to assist in our refugee response,” said Shelter, support and housing spokesman Greg Seraganian.
“There is no immediate plan to use this site; however, as a contingency, the City is budgeting $3 million for operating costs, funded by reserve, should the flow of refugees increase at a rate which cannot be accommodated through our other programs.”
The Yonge St. facility was supposed to replace motel units some homeless are currently living in thanks to the City.
True North previously reported that an influx of asylum seekers — making asylum claimants upon arrival at airports or after illegally crossing the border — have overwhelmed the Toronto shelter system. The Trudeau government denied there was a problem at the border and waived the Mexican visa requirement, which resulted in claims skyrocketing from that country and a reported 400 cartel members entering Canada without detection.
The tens of thousands of asylum claimants entering the City have led the City to resort to renting out entire hotels, buying new facilities (including $10 million for four temporary shelters that can house a combined 400 people) and keeping outdated facilities open.
On June 13 there were 7,023 staying in the shelter system. Last month the average number of people staying in the shelter system any given night was 6,999. That number was 6,662 and 4,812 in 2018 and 2019 respectively.
The Trudeau government gave the Toronto shelter system $15 million of taxpayer’s money at the beginning of this year to address the influx. It was added to another $11 million given last summer. At the beginning of April the Trudeau government committed to giving Toronto Community Housing $1.3 billion to repair 1,500 building throughout the city.