West Toronto councilors have voted in favor of an offer of millions of dollars in federal funding to help solve the homelessness crisis that officials say is getting worse.
On Thursday, Peel Region accepted $7 million to build a welcome center near Toronto’s Pearson International Airport using federal funding.
The new reception space will be designed to help area asylum seekers who are struggling to find housing as winter approaches, local and federal policy officials said.
Peel Region includes Brampton, Caledon and Mississauga.
The announcement comes a week after an asylum seeker was found dead in an encampment outside a shelter on Dundas Street in Mississauga.
A Peel Region spokesperson said he could not share specific details about how the welcome center would operate or be developed, including when and where the welcome center will be built. They said the region was working “as quickly as possible” on the project.
“The new sites are vital for asylum seekers facing persecution in their home countries and will ease the capacity burden on Peel’s emergency shelters,” the spokesperson told PKBNEWS.
Peel Region’s Homeless and Housing Services operate under a policy that no person who comes seeking shelter is turned away.
However, recently authorities say the need has become so dire that they are simply unable to keep their promises.
“We don’t have any more space, do we?” So, starting this summer, even though that’s our policy, we just can’t follow it,” said Sean Baird, Peel’s social services commissioner, in an interview with PKBNEWS.
“There just aren’t enough hotels available that want to work with us. So we had to start looking for alternatives.”
He said that as winter approaches, the region’s policies could look “more like a humanitarian response” as they work to bring large numbers of people home out of the cold .
Brampton Mayor Patrick Brown and federal Immigration Minister Marc Miller both celebrated the news that Peel would welcome a new reception space near the airport.
“This deal will save lives,” Brown said in a social media post.
Miller said he was “very happy” that Peel accepted his offer.
“Now more than ever, in the face of a global migration crisis, we must work more closely together,” he said in a message.
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