Dear Community Members,
On Wednesday Oct 2nd, the day after a successful community meeting with Councillor Wong-Tam, we obtained information that the city has signed a 10 year, multi-million dollar lease for the property at 233 Carlton Street. This building is the former office of ‘Free the Children’ across from Daniel et Daniel. Free the Children are still the owners of the building. Based on the wording in the Delegated Approval Form, the building is to be used for “Health and Welfare Services, community programs, and services forgoing”. We have asked for specific details about the intended use for the property and will share this once we have more information.
Our current understanding is that the city has already signed a lease with the owners of 233 Carlton St. and is to become a new 24-hour/7-days-a-week, 50-bed woman’s drop-in centre that is currently located at 67 Adelaide St E, which is a city owned building.
Unfortunately, our association was completely blindsided by this information.
Since July, we have been meeting monthly with both Councillor Wong-Tam and Gord Tanner, Director Shelter Support & Housing (SSHA), to discuss the very difficult circumstances we’re currently experiencing around Margaret’s 24/7 Respite, located at Dundas and Sherbourne, which falls under SSHA’s portfolio.
At our meetings in July and August, we specifically asked Mr. Tanner and city staff from SSHA if there were any plans for additional shelters, drop-ins or respites within Cabbagetown South. We were told “not at this time”.
To be clear, we recognize the need for substantial affordable and supportive housing for our community’s most vulnerable residents. We’ve already been strongly advocating to all levels of government to do more.
In saying this, however, our area is already in crisis and the impact of adding more vulnerable people–that deserve safety and security–into an area out of control is not safe, welcoming, or supportive.
Our genuine concern in how this has unfolded, is the complete lack of transparency and community consultation that took place before a location was selected and a legal lease signed. We feel we have a right to be a part of this dialogue, especially when it relates to our community.
Simply moving our most vulnerable people from one building to another is not the systemic change we need, or deserve.
Since learning of this news, we have spoken directly to the Councillor and expressed our concerns around another service being put into our already over-burdened community.
Councillor Wong-Tam vehemently denies knowing that the lease had been signed, but did concede to knowing about the city’s intentions since July. At that time, in July, she told the SSHA she had major reservations and stressed the importance of meaningful community consultations before proceeding.
Sadly, that did not happen.
The Mayor approved this plan and allowed SSHA to move forward without any community consultation.
You can read Councillor Wong-Tam’s & The City Manager’s full statement below.