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Aurora residents group draws battle line for proposed shelter

Group remains opposed to York Region's bid to build a 55-unit emergency and transitional housing facility on Yonge; open house and planning meeting upcoming
The proposed site for a new shelter in Aurora.

CORRECTION: An earlier version of this story included incorrect information that Blue Door would be the operator of the proposed shelter, if the shelter is approved. York Region does plan to use a community-based service provider, but that will be selected through a competitive process. 

York Region and some Aurora residents are preparing to square off over a proposed emergency and transitional housing facility in the town.

The regional municipality is hosting a community open house Jan. 29 on a proposal to build a 55-unit facility at 14452 Yonge St. that could serve the homeless and help transition them into more permanent housing. While backed by housing advocates, it garnered debate last year when area residents came out in force to protest the proposal, including a threat of legal action. 

The group, which has launched a website,, plans to continue the protest as the proposal comes before Aurora council once again Feb. 13.

“We are not in favour of this location because it is poorly located in relation to resources and services, the proposal violates the Oak Ridges Moraine Conservation Plan, and the disturbances from the sewage pump and expanding railway would be inconsiderate to users,” the group told NewmarketToday. “The proposed location was chosen for expediency, not relevance.”

The proposed facility has been in limbo for several months. York Region initially expected to start construction last year, and it is part of regional efforts to address the need for more shelter space. After Aurora council did not immediately approve it in early 2023, York Region council had a recorded vote in May that it would not take the town to the Ontario Land Tribunal over the matter.

The Housing York facility would be located on region-owned property just south of Industrial Parkway South and would be placed 34 metres from a new pumping station. 

The region said the proposed facility is centrally located and would be able to provide a range of supports to those experiencing homelessness, including life skills.

“Across York Region, there is an urgent need to increase emergency and transitional housing capacity to meet the demand for services. Helping residents find and keep housing is a priority and aligns with our vision to create strong, caring and safe communities,” the region said on its website.

The region anticipated it could get planning approvals and a building permit this year, for construction to happen between 2024 and 2026. The project has been in the works since 2018, and the region submitted a second site plan application in June 2023.

Housing charity Blue Door CEO Michael Braithwaite said he will attend the open house on the matter and spoke in support of it. 

“I know that the kind and amazing citizens of Aurora support a community that includes support for our most vulnerable,” he said on social media.

However, the residents group remains concerned by the chosen location for the proposal. 

“The burden is on York Region to address the issues with this location,” the group said. “From our study of the relevant reports and applicable legislation, we do not see a viable path forward at this location.

“We hope that Aurora’s councillors will vote in accordance with the factual arguments presented,” the group added.

The Ontario Human Rights Commission weighed in on the matter in 2023, noting that some of the fears expressed by residents around increased crime or lower property values do not constitute a legal reason to deny the application. 

Aurora council passed a resolution in December recognizing the homelessness crisis and committed to "ending homelessness in the community in collaboration with the region, and both the provincial and federal governments."

The community open house on the proposal is at Aurora Public Library at 15145 Yonge St. on Jan 29 between 5 and 8 p.m.

The public planning meeting is scheduled Feb. 13 at 7 p.m. in the Aurora town hall.