The City of Toronto announced 485 new spaces for the homeless as part of its 2019-2020 winter services plan, but expert Cathy Crowe says the numbers are inadequate.

The city invited the Ontario Coalition Against Poverty and the Shelter and Housing Justice Network for a private briefing ahead of the plan’s public release, to share some of its thoughts.

Crowe, who is Ryerson’s distinguished visiting practitioner and a homelessness advocate, said she indicated to the city that 2,000 additional shelter beds were needed and the 485 beds they plan to make available are insufficient.

The city claims to have a 94-space increase this year as the total rises to 899 from last winter’s 805. But Crowe calls that a “sham,” as the increase exclusively refers to respite spaces.

While many people are concerned about Kelowna’s homeless tent cities, no one seems willing or able to give them shelter.

Kelowna Mayor Colin Basran says the city, B.C. Housing and Journey Home have been working for months trying to find winter emergency shelter space, to no avail.

“No matter where we turn, it seems like there’s one issue or another that makes the site unavailable,” Basran told iNFOnews.ca today, Nov. 27.

While they look, winter has officially arrived this week with temperatures expected to drop as low as -13 Celsius — and colder with a wind chill.

A local pastor is standing his ground after complaints were lodged with the city’s bylaw office over tents on church property, which are meant to operate as a homeless shelter.

In an email to Global News Radio 980 CFPL, the city’s head bylaw officer, Orest Katolyk, confirmed there have been at least five complaints.

“Several of the concerns raised focus on the safety of the tents,” he wrote.

Pastor Dan Morand of Beth Emanuel Church on Grey Street is not deterred, however, and is moving ahead with plans to help 15 to 20 homeless men transition to work, education, rehab programs, or any other forward momentum plan.

Each year, the Leeds, Grenville & Lanark District Health Unit conducts Nutritious Food Basket costing. The results show that individuals and households living with a low income struggle to buy enough nutritious food after paying rent, bills, and other living expenses.

While food banks play an important role in reducing food insecurity, they are not a permanent solution to this problem. Food bank operators work hard to increase food access facing several challenges in the process. Individuals and families may find it difficult or embarrassing to have to go to a food bank. Some food banks may have a limited selection of food since they rely on donations and drives. Food banks do not always have the facilities to store fresh food such as vegetables, fruit, dairy products, eggs, fish and meat. Food banks may restrict the number of times recipients use their services, because their supply is limited.

The legal team representing the plaintiffs in a $200 million class-action lawsuit over the early cancellation of the basic income pilot project is holding information sessions in Hamilton and Brantford next week.

Partner Stephen Moreau and associate Kaley Duff from Toronto law firm Cavalluzzo LLP will discuss the class action at three Dec. 5 sessions.

The sessions will give former participants a chance to learn more about the class action, which was filed in March 2019 by four program participants, and how it could affect them.

The lawsuit alleges the Ford government breached its contract with the 4,000 participants in Hamilton-Brantford, Lindsay and Thunder Bay.

Community Share Food Bank, which operates in the Don Mills community — an area considered to be fairly well off — has seen a near five per cent increase in clients in 2019 over the year before.

Don Mills is not unique in its rising food bank need. This story is consistent with the results of the 2019 Who’s Hungry report produced by North York Harvest Food Bank, Daily Bread Food Bank and The Mississauga Food Bank. It shows food bank use in Toronto and Mississauga grew four per cent in 2019 over the year before, anticipating a little more than one million visits by the end of this year at their 250 partner agencies, of which Community Share is one.

Central Toronto and Etobicoke visits have actually decreased this year, but Scarborough has seen an eight per cent rise, and North York nine per cent for the year. The riding of Etobicoke North is continuing to see high per capita food bank usage rates — five out of every 100 people use them. Mississauga has seen a staggering 16 per cent increase in food bank usage. Poverty is moving to the suburbs, said North York Harvest executive director Ryan Noble.

No one was hurt in a tent blaze early Tuesday night in a wooded area off The Kingsway in the city’s south end.

Some homeless people have been living in tents this winter in the city, but it wasn’t clear to fire crews on Tuesday night whether the tent that burned had been recently occupied.

Platoon Chief Stephen Reid of the city fire department said no one was around at the time of the fire — not even bystanders.