Peterborough city council voted unanimously at an emergency meeting on Wednesday night (July 17) to allow the Peterborough Public Library to be used as a temporary overnight shelter while the city seeks a more permanent solution.
The city is working with YES Shelter for Youth and Families, Brock Mission, Fourcast, and United Way of Peterborough and District to open 15 overflow beds in the library’s auditorium (345 Aylmer St. N., Peterborough) as well as another 15 overflow beds at YES Shelter (196 Brock St., Peterborough).
The 30 overflow beds are in addition to the regular beds already provided at the city’s existing emergency shelters (Brock Mission, Cameron House, and YES Shelter).
The city’s social services division will coordinate intake at the library when the overflow beds become available at 9 p.m. every night. Homeless people requesting shelter will either be directed to beds at one of the existing emergency shelters or one of the 30 overflow beds at either the library or YES Shelter.
People who use the overflow beds will be asked leave by 8 a.m. each morning. The library opens to the public at 10 a.m. daily except Sunday, when it opens at 2 p.m.
The 30 overflow beds at the library and YES Shelter are a temporary solution as the city works with local organizations to find a longer-term location for overflow beds.
While YES Shelter normally only provides beds for youth and families, the organization is able to provide 15 temporary overflow beds for people of all ages as families using the shelter have moved into housing and other accommodations.
The city’s decision to open temporary overflow beds at the library and YES Shelter is a result of the closure of the previous overflow bed service at the Warming Room Community Ministries program at John’s Anglican Church on July 1st. On the last night of service at the Warming Room, there were 29 people using overflow beds.
Following the closure of the Warming Room service, some homeless people began camping at Victoria Park just north of St. John’s Anglican Church.
The city is encouraging any people who are camping in public spaces to go to the library at 9 p.m. to speak with staff who will connect them with a shelter or overflow bed.
Shelter bed availability can change each day. Last week, there were as many as about 25 beds available in the shelter system. On July 17th, there were six beds available at Cameron House for women, three beds available at YES Shelter for youth, and no beds available at the Brock Mission for men.
Peterborough city council is holding a special emergency meeting at 7:30 p.m. on Wednesday night (July 17) to consider whether the Peterborough Public Library will be used a temporary overnight shelter location.
Council will meet for a special emergency general committee meeting at 7:30 p.m. to consider the recommendation then, immediately following that meeting, will hold a special emergency council meeting to consider approving the recommendation. Public delegations are permitted at the council meeting.
If council decides to proceed, 20 overflow beds in the auditorium on the lower level of the library at 345 Aylmer Street North would open at 9 p.m. on Wednesday night.
The temporary overflow beds location would then be open from 9 p.m. to 8 a.m. each night. People who use the space would be expected to leave by 8 a.m. each morning.
The city would encourage people who are camping in public spaces to go to the library at 9 p.m. and speak with outreach staff, who would then connect them with either an overflow bed or a bed at one of the existing emergency shelters (Brock Mission, Cameron House, and Youth Emergency Shelter).
The city had contracted with St. John’s Anglican Church, through its Warming Room Community Ministries program, for the provision of overflow beds. However, Warming Room Community Ministries was unable to provide the service after its lease expired at its former location at the end of June.
According to a media release from the city, the library would be a temporary location while the city secures a longer-term location for the overflow beds service.
On Tuesday (July 16), the City and County of Peterborough issued a joint letter to people who are staying in tents in Victoria Park in downtown Peterborough, due to safety concerns related to extreme heat and humidity and severe thunderstorms forecast for this week.
The letter encourages people to check with emergency shelters daily and to talk to outreach workers to find alternative shelter.