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FirstOntario Centre will become “surge” homeless shelter during the COVID-19 pandemic.

FirstOntario Centre will become “surge” homeless shelter during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Emergency Operations Centre director Paul Johnson announced that 50 cots will be added to the former Copps Coliseum downtown over the Easter weekend.

Johnson said existing shelters “simply don’t have the space” in many cases to enforce physical distancing of at least two metres

First Ontario has 17,000 square feet of space on the playing surface — which it is hoped will allow for Physical distancing. For 50 beds it would man about 9 feet between beds.

Johnson says the extra beds will help reduce the number of men staying in other shelters. For women and children Johnson said the city is putting up more women and families in hotels — around 46 people in total — and has extended funding for seasonal women’s shelters.

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