Sarah Polley is using her fame to bring attention to a crisis ravaging the homeless population of Toronto.
The “Road to Avonlea” actress penned an article for Vancouver Metro on the horrifying conditions facing homeless people in Canada’s largest city.
“On the afternoon of New Year’s Eve I stand, in shock, looking at the scene before me in one of Toronto’s 24-hour overflow warming centres,” Polley writes. “A young woman huddles under a blanket on a mat on the floor, inches away from dozens of other people.”
Polley says the city’s shelter system is a “catastrophe” overflowing with people and “running high” with tension: “It feels unsafe.”
“If I am to take honest stock of my experience of being here, for even 15 minutes,” the actress continues. “I can see how hard it would be to risk the violence, disease and claustrophobia of one of these 24-hour centres when faced with a choice between this and the deadly temperatures outside.”
But Polley has a solution to, at the very least, offer more homeless people improved living conditions this winter.
“Every morning, these last weeks, we find ourselves shocked by the cold, and over and over again, we hear the calls, from people who have worked in this field for decades, for the armouries at Moss Park and Fort York to be opened to the homeless,” she says.
Continuing, “The armouries have showers. They have space. And they’ve been used before.” Polley places blame on the shoulders of Mayor John Tory who says, according to the director and actor, “the use of the armouries would not be ‘safe’ or ‘adequate.”
“The armouries have showers,” insists Polley. “They have space. And they’ve been used before.” These armouries were previously “opened in 1996, 1998, 1999, and 2004” to help homeless people.
Now Polley is calling upon Mayor Tory to “have the decency and strength to reconsider your position. Make the call and open the damn armouries.”