Simcoe County and partners prepare warming centers ahead of winter

As winter approaches and the temperature begins to drop, Simcoe County and its municipalities are working to ensure homeless people have a warm place to live.

Heated shelters are being set up with help from area shelters and community partners to help connect homeless people with warm, safe and connected services.

Warming centers will be available in Barrie, Bradford West Gwillimbury, Collingwood and Orillia this winter on nights when nighttime temperatures are expected to fall below -15C for at least two hours.

The county is also working with Alliston and Midland shelters to ensure winter warming is available.

“We are pleased to report that an entire year of work and planning by our staff and partners has paid off, and warming center locations will be open across the region this winter,” said the director. George Cornell.

“Prior to 2022, the county did not specifically fund warming center locations within our communities, as it was not part of the county’s mandate. However, we are pleased to contribute to this important service in 2022 and for 2023 through one-time pandemic-specific funding and the expansion of our supports.

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The county said homeless shelter providers, overnight warming services, day care services and overnight respite beds in many locations will provide additional choices for people who choose not to. access shelter programs.

People will not be required to participate in the shelter program to access the overnight respite reception and warning programs.

While the shelter system is publicly funded through the county, local shelters are not publicly run. Private and non-profit shelters in Simcoe County include:

  • Elizabeth Fry Society, serving women and gender diverse people – Barrie
  • La Maison Rosewood Shelter, serving women and children – Midland
  • Salvation Army Bayside Mission, Serving Men – Barrie
  • SHIFT – Alliston (winter accommodation)
  • Busby Center–Barrie
  • The Busby Center – Collingwood (temporary winter accommodation)
  • The guest house – Midland
  • The Lighthouse – Orillia
  • Youth Haven, serving young people aged 16 to 24 – Barrie

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In addition to warming center locations, by December the county expects to have increased shelter capacity by 50 beds across the region through the winter.

A temporary shelter is being built in Barrie, which staff say will be operational once the City of Barrie provides final permits and approvals in the coming weeks.

Staff say there is currently room in the shelter system, but if capacity is reached before the new temporary shelter is operational, the county will increase the motel voucher program to ensure any anyone who needs a bed has one.

For residents looking for temporary indoor warmth, shelter or support resources, please visit simcoe.ca/findshelter for a complete listing of area shelters and support resources. People can call 2-1-1 for help or contact the shelter in your community directly to access shelter services.

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Carol N. Valencia