Plans for the temporary shelter at St. Aidan's Anglican Church, located in the affluent Beach neighbourhood, have been put on hold after a group of neighbours threatened the church with a legal injunction.
Toronto lawyer Peter Silverberg, who represents the group of residents threatening legal action, told the Toronto Star their concerns did not stem from the "not in my backyard syndrome," but rather from the lack of consultations and questions over whether the program is the best use of resources. He refused to speak with the CBC.
The project would have been part of the Out of the Cold program, under which dozens of churches and synagogues throughout the city open their doors to provide shelter and food to the homeless.
Rev. Stephen Kirkegaard, the Silver Birch Avenue church's priest, defended the plan as a small project with the potential to save lives.
"It's just 12 people. The police are saying it's safe," said Kirkegaard. "The homeless are people like ourselves. They're just people that fell through the cracks and we can make a difference."
Kirkegaard said the church's plan was to provide shelter for up to a dozen homeless people every Monday during the coldest winter months.
More than 100 people have offered to volunteer so far and others have donated money, Kirkegaard says.
A meeting has been scheduled for concerned residents and the church on Jan. 16 to discuss details of the plan.
Coun. Sandra Bussin, who represents the area and helped set up the meeting, said she believes those living near the church are worried about the people coming and going to the church in the middle of the night.
But she says lack of information might be part of the problem.
"The way this was presented was perhaps done too quickly, without really giving sufficient information," said Bussin.
The church's plans to house the homeless have been delayed until they can be discussed at the meeting.
Copyright © 2006 CBC