Peterborough appeals to businesses, organizations for shelter bed space

The City of Peterborough is appealing to community organizations and businesses that may have available space to provide overflow shelter beds.

The appeal comes in the wake of a growing tent city on municipal property, including Victoria Park. Many of those displaced were utilizing the Warming Room homeless shelter which was forced to close on July 1 when its lease at the Murray Street Baptist Church.

On the last night of the Warming Room overflow shelter beds service, the city says there were 27 people who used the space.

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The city had a contract with Warming Room Community Ministries which operated the shelter but has since ended the contract with the organization. Overflow shelter beds are provided when people can’t be accommodated in the other regular emergency shelters: Brock Mission, Cameron House and YES Shelter for Youth and Families.

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Last week, the city, Brock Mission, YES Shelter for Youth and Families, Fourcast, United Way of Peterborough and District opened 30 overflow shelter beds at two temporary locations as an interim measure — at the YES Shelter and at the Peterborough Public Library.

The search for an overflow shelter beds location is being broadened to any community organization or business that may have space.

“While the city provided flexibility for Warming Room Community Ministries to find a new location over the last few weeks, this isn’t about specific service providers — it’s about providing safe overnight space for people who are homeless and ultimately connecting them with support and stable housing, not just temporary shelter,” the city stated.

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On Tuesday, Mayor Diane Therrien launched a task force to plan a more permanent, low-barrier shelter for the city’s most vulnerable. She received support from Peterborough-Kawartha MP Maryam Monsef and MPP Dave Smith and Peterborough County Warden J. Murray Jones.

“The voices of those living rough in our community, as well as community experts and advocates, will be heard through the development of the Task Force report and the future creation of low-barrier shelter through multiple avenues,” Therrien said.

The location for the overflow shelter beds needs to satisfy fire code and Ontario building code regulations for that type of use for the safety of the occupants. Staff from Peterborough Fire Services and the city’s building division will assist with this assessment, the city said.

Community organizations and businesses with a space that could be made available for overflow shelter beds can email Dorothy Olver, the city’s social services program manager.

WATCH: Trees cut in Victoria Park amid tent city in Peterborough

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