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City council approves $80M plan for 600 refugee shelter spaces at North York hotel

cbc.ca logo cbc.ca 2022-08-15 Patrick Swadden
A photo of Hotel Novotel in North York, where the City of Toronto is planning to house 600 refugees and refugee claimants starting next month. According to a city news release, current demand for spaces is similar to the surge of new refugee arrivals experienced by Toronto's shelter system in 2018 and 2019. © Doug Hudsby/CBC A photo of Hotel Novotel in North York, where the City of Toronto is planning to house 600 refugees and refugee claimants starting next month. According to a city news release, current demand for spaces is similar to the surge of new refugee arrivals experienced by Toronto's shelter system in 2018 and 2019.

The City of Toronto says it will create more than 600 new emergency shelter spaces for refugees and refugee claimants following approval by city council on Monday. 

The plan is expected to cost $80 million over five years, according to a city news release.

The city says it's making the move due to a steady increase in refugees seeking temporary accommodations since September 2021, primarily driven by the reopening of the Canada-U.S. border and the relaxation of international travel restrictions.

According to the release, current demand for spaces is similar to the surge of new refugee arrivals in Toronto's shelter system in 2018 and 2019.

"There are currently more than 1,800 refugee clients in shelters," the city said..


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"Despite adding 750 new spaces for refugees and refugee claimants in the spring of 2022, demand continues to grow."

The new spaces will be located at the Novotel Hotel in North York. City staff presented a proposal to use the hotel to council on July 3.

According to the release, the city wants to continue to implement a "refugee-specific shelter sector" that operates alongside the existing shelter system.

"Refugee-serving programs are distinct, as they include wrap-around supports that are specifically geared towards helping refugees and refugee claimants get established and build connections in the community."

The release also says the new spaces at the Novotel Hotel will free up space in the city's shelter system as it allows refugees seeking temporary accommodation to move to the new site where more wrap-around supports are available.

This includes help with the settlement process and case coordination with legal services, as well as employment and education supports.

The plan is expected to go into effect next month.

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