Nothing is more important than the safety of our children and community.
The City of Toronto's proposed plan to convert 629 Adelaide Street West into an 80-person 24-hour low barrier walk-in respite site presents significant safety concerns, especially to children, a vulnerable sector group.
Concerningly, the proposed site is:
- Only 65 metres from St. Mary Catholic Elementary School;
- Only 350 metres east of Niagara Street Junior Public School;
- Only 70 metres from a school bus drop-off;
- On the path that students from Niagara Street Junior Public School would take to access after-school programs at St. Mary Catholic Elementary School; and
- On a quiet residential cul-de-sac with limited lighting and deterrence.
The addition of the low-barrier respite centre would literally sandwich St. Mary Catholic Elementary School with a "safe" injection site, with any potential users crossing the school along their path or potentially the school grounds to access the site from the proposed respite centre.
Moreover, the safety concerns are not limited to just kids and youth, who are already facing limited access to surrounding parks and recreation because of the growing incidence of crime and tents. Residents with elderly parents, seniors, and families are also concerned with the city's poor track record at protecting local communities neighbouring other respite centres that include a central intake, such as the centre in Liberty Village - unlike the one proposed at 629 Adelaide Street West, which will be low-barrier without any intake function.
As the temperature drops, the need will grow for a warm place for people to get out of the cold. Therefore, the city should implement a different model for the respite centre. Instead of a low-barrier, walk-in respite centre, 629 Adelaide Street West should become a respite centre for women and their children fleeing abuse or refugees. As a family-oriented community, not only would the Niagara community welcome this better fit, they could also step up to provide further support as a neighbourhood of families.
The Mayor, City Councillor, and City of Toronto made this decision without any consultation, they cannot turn a blind eye to the legitimate concerns of the community, and must act to protect our city's most vulnerable - children.