I had reserved judgement on those objectors to the new “Out of the Cold” program in the Beaches until the community meeting had happened. Well, now it has, and I am just amazed by the ignorance and fear of the residents who still object to the very modest 12-person program suggested. (And I’ll stick to calling the neighbourhood the Beaches, as I always have as a born-and-bred Torontonian, just to annoy them.)
St. Thomas’ has held “Out of the Cold” for years, I believe, and with no ill results that I know of except for the overwhelming smell of the thick pea soup that is served for dinner. Several times in the last year or two the “Out of the Cold” dinner was held just before the intermission of the Exultate concert. I never heard anyone object or comment on it — except for that pervasive pea-soup smell.
I volunteered at the “Out of the Cold” night at Trinity-St. Pauls for a while. If there was any objection in the neighbourhood, I don’t recall it. A bunch of tired and cold people having a healthy meal and sleeping on the floor of the parish hall… if there was any noticeable effect on the neighbourhood, it was the orderly line-up to get in, similar to the flurry at the church’s other door for Tafelmusik concerts.
The objections I read in the paper and heard on the radio today from the (apparently small number of) objectors in the Beaches were:
1. the homeless residents might infect the area with TB (10 cases per year, apparently — and you need prolonged close contact, which the objecting residents are surely going to ensure doesn’t occur)
2. property values might go down (see the Annex, above)
3. one man mentioned that his daughter, who is TWELVE, had just started walking to school by herself. He didn’t really say how the presence of a few homeless people around dinner time and early in the morning related to this, so the inference is left for us all too make. I can’t. I just can’t get over the fact that his twelve-year-old daughter just started walking to school by herself.)