Barrie councillors have given the nod to a pilot project to support warming centre initiatives in the city for next winter. Barrie would provide matching funds to a maximum of $50,000 to the County of Simcoe to be distributed to an appropriate provider organization(s) in coordination with the county’s support funding, instead of opening a city facility as an overnight warming centre.
The city’s $50,000 tab would come from the Reinvestment Reserve. When the next request for proposals for contracted security services is issued, de-escalation training would be requested.
County staff recently recommended that a further one-time allocation of $100,000 be made to support warming centres in five communities in Simcoe County for 2022-2023. According to city staff, it’s anticipated that a greater portion of the $100,000 allocation will be provided for warming centre
operations in Barrie, as the county is expected to use the Homeless Individuals and Families
Information System (HIFIS) and enumeration data in determining the allocations
The issue is on the agenda at County council on Tuesday.
Two warming centres opened in Barrie last January and were operated by the John Howard Society of Simcoe Muskoka (JHSSM). They were open seven days a week, with a daytime drop-in at Trinity Anglican Church and an overnight centre hosted by Catholic Family Services of Simcoe County on Anne Street. The services were provided until March 31.
Prior to the opening of the warming centres, the city also offered the transit terminal as shelter when Environment Canada issued an extreme cold warning, which meant the wind chill would be at least minus 30 Cel. City council later changed the threshold to a wind chill of minus 20 Cel.
According to a staff report, the transit terminal was opened overnight 34 times between Jan. 10, 2022 to Mar. 29, 2022, though the number of people accessing the terminal was reduced when the JHSSM opened their warming centres. The additional security and cleaning costs incurred to support the overnight warming space for 34 nights was approximately $16,225. These additional costs may be offset from a global budgeting perspective by year-end.
The cost to operate the warming centres was just over $64,000. The City of Barrie and County of Simcoe each chipped in $20,000. The rest was covered by various donations, including $10,000 each from a private donor and the Peggy Hill Team Real Estate Group.
The county is responsible for the funding of shelters, programs and services in Barrie – Elizabeth Fry Society, Youth Haven, the Busby Centre and Salvation Army Barrie Bayside Mission.
There are no city staff hired for social and health support services or the delivery/warming centre operations in Barrie.
Banner image: The warming centre operated by the John Howard Society of Simcoe Muskoka on Anne Street/image supplied