On Thursday October 27th and Sunday October 30th, we welcomed the community to walk through our newly constructed 30 bed emergency shelter and drop-in at 850/854 Bloor St. West. Guests of the open house enjoyed catering from LOFT Kitchen, our youth capacity building social enterprise, and were able to gain a ‘sneak peek’ into what we have in-store for community members when we open our doors for services later this year.
The event was designed to have participants walk through the shelter and drop-in at their own pace, with information posted and CONC staff available at different locations throughout the building to answer questions. A wonderful addition to the event was the participation of members of the shelter’s newly formed Community Liaison Committee (CLC), a group of residents dedicated to smoothly transitioning the shelter into Bloorcourt, who volunteered to welcome guests and offer information on becoming a member of the CLC.
In addition, members of the York University research facility, the Canadian Observatory on Homelessness, hosted an information table that presented their 2016 report on homelessness in Canada.
Councillor Mike Layton also joined the festivities and made a special effort to tour the accessible features of the shelter. 73% of shelter facilities in Toronto are inaccessible. The few shelters that are currently accessible only accommodate a handful of individuals each who require accessibility at any given time. Our new 30-bed shelter has six accessible spots, and, the addition of an elevator and related accessibility renovations, has allowed for 5 beds in our main shelter to be fully accessible to homeless community members.
A special part of the event was the community art project, in which participants were asked to answer the question, “What is community to you?” in a few words on a blank canvas. We had multi-lingual responses which included ‘caring for each other’, ‘strength in numbers’, ‘community is a safety net’ and ‘community is ohana. Ohana means family, and family means no one is left behind!’ The resulting piece will be hung in the shelter for our opening. We also received many wishes of luck, success and a gift of greenery from one of our neighbours – a beautiful succulent plant.
CONC wishes to thank all of our volunteers and community members who came to support us. We are very grateful for all of your help in ensuring our continued success and we look forward to a very bright future in the Bloorcourt community!