County Of Simcoe Lays Out Enhanced Programs To Assist Homeless This Winter

Courtesy of Barrie360.com; Ian MacLennanPublished: Oct 13th, 2023

The County of Simcoe is working to take some of the chill off of winter with a number of enhanced options to aid those experiencing homelessness, while developing a more cohesive system of communication among shelter providers.

There are a total of 224 shelter beds available in Simcoe County including the cities of Barrie and Orillia, with an additional 107 spaces being added to the system.

There are four shelter providers in Barrie: The Elizabeth Fry Society, Youth Haven, Busby Centre and the Salvation Army Bayside Mission.

A modular facility at 20 Rose Street operated as a temporary shelter during winter 2022-2023 and will continue to do so this upcoming season. The county is working with two Barrie-based homeless shelter providers to finalize a deal to operate additional temporary shelter beds and daytime case management services at the Rose Street location beginning Sunday until the end of April 2024.

The Gilbert Centre told Barrie 360 it is still finalizing a plan to operate a warming centre at its 80 Bradford Street location, the same place where it operated a cooling centre this past summer. The warming centre would be funded through the end of April 2024.

Agreements for warming centres have already been established in Bradford and the City of Orillia.

On Friday, the county unveiled a new data tool designed to provide real-time information into shelter capacity within the region.

The dashboard will be updated daily, providing the general public, municipalities, community agencies and the county with the latest shelter availability and occupancy data, and is available at open.simcoe.ca.

“County Council is committed to making the right investments that make the biggest impact, while continuing to support our unhoused residents, our agency partners and our community at large,” said Warden Basil Clarke. “This important data now available to us will further assist in continuing to make well-informed, system-wide decisions to improve outcomes for our most vulnerable residents, when and where they need it the most.”

The county says the benefits of the data include:

  • Accurate data and point-in-time information
  • Shelter capacity on a daily, weekly, and monthly basis
  • Community trends and priority areas
  • Flow of clients within the system
  • Identifiable gaps to address where investments and resources can be adjusted if needed
  • Overall accountability for the system 

These plans are part of the County of Simcoe’s 10-point homelessness prevention strategy, which is designed to provide a strong, data-driven plan to help the most vulnerable residents in communities.

More information about the plan can be found here:https://www.simcoe.ca/homelessnesssystem

Patricia Dent

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