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City to use two college dorms to help with refugee housing crisis

Last Updated May 23, 2018 at 4:34 pm EDT

Centennial College Residence and Conference Centre in Scarborough

The city of Toronto has activated an emergency plan to provide temporary housing for the increasing number of refugee claimants arriving in Toronto.

James Kilgour, the director of Emergency Management for the city, says they will turn dorms at two Toronto colleges into temporary housing until the beginning of August.

Starting on Thursday, 400 beds at Centennial College Residence and Conference Centre in Scarborough will be used to temporarily house refugee claimants and new arrivals. Then on June 1, another 400 beds will become available at Humber College in Etobicoke.

Once students return for the start of school in the fall, the city says it will turn to municipal facilites, including community centres, to accommodate new arrivals.

The provincial government says it will commit up to half of the $6.3-million total cost of operating the contingency sites for the next 75 days. Most of those funds will be put towards Red Cross staffing costs.

“Toronto has a long history of welcoming refugees but the City can no longer absorb the cost and impact of the increasing numbers of refugee claimants coming into the country,” Mayor John Tory said in a statement.

“We have triggered our emergency protocol to help these families in their time of need, with some support from the Government of Ontario, but require the federal government to take immediate steps to permanently relieve this unprecedented pressure on the City’s shelter system.”

The city says as of April 19, 368 refugee claimants have entered the City’s shelter system and at the current rate of arrivals, the city projects that refugee claimants will represent more than 54 per cent of the City’s shelter population by November.