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OCAP vows to turn Metro Hall into 'shelter' next month after council rejects debate on shelter beds

TORONTO, Ont. – Anti-poverty activists are vowing to “claim” Metro Hall next month after city council voted against an emergency debate to discuss the number of shelter beds available to the city’s homeless Wednesday.

Activists were outraged after city councillors voted down a motion for an emergency debate.

John Clarke of the Ontario Coalition Against Poverty accused city council of not caring about the homeless.

“The city council is taking the position that they are prepared to abandon human begins,” he said. “They’re prepared to let people go out on the streets.”

Coun. Denzil Minnan-Wong said there were 167 shelter beds that were unused Tuesday night.

“There were 167 spaces, which suggests that there are bed available,” he said.

“If there were a cold weather alert, the city would add over and above 167.”

“They’d add an additional 130 beds.”

Coun. Adam Vaughan wanted the emergency debate, saying people were dying because they could not find shelter space.

“The 700th name has now be added to the list of homeless people that have died on city streets,” he said.

Minnan-Wong said there are shelter beds not being used.

“I think Coun. Vaughan is suggesting there’s a crisis,” he said.

“These numbers suggest that it may not be.”

OCAP said they plan to “claim” Metro Hall on March 7 and set up their own emergency shelter.

Last Friday, protesters camped out in front of Mayor Rob Ford’s office to protest a lack of shelter space.