MONTREAL -- The city of Montreal announced on Thursday it has reserved three new sites to house people experiencing homelessness in the city until next spring, as part of its plan to transition away from some of the emergency measures implemented amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

Montreal Mayor Valerie Plante made the announcement outside of the former site of the Royal Victoria Hospital on Thursday, which is one of the sites that has and will continue to be used as an accommodation – along with the Complexe Guy-Favreau and the former YMCA in the city’s Hochelaga-Maisonneuve borough – until March 31, 2021.

At the height of the pandemic, several community services were cut back. Temporary resources set up by the city in response to these cutbacks are now slowly being lifted, as regular services resume their activities. 

Over the next several months, the three shelters will serve as a transition back to regular services, the city said – and will be able to accommodate some 850 people. An additional 200 beds will be added for the winter in a location that has not yet been confirmed.

"The agglomeration of Montreal, the health network and community organizations have succeeded, since the start of the pandemic, in preventing the health crisis from turning into a humanitarian crisis by quickly setting up temporary accommodation sites and food as part of emergency measures,” Plante said in a statement. “By opening three new accommodation sites, Montreal and its partners are continuing their efforts to ensure that people experiencing homelessness in Montreal can benefit from a roof to sleep under, have meals and receive quality support despite the challenges of the pandemic over the next few months.” 

The former Royal Victoria Hospital has been used as an accommodation since the beginning of July – housing approximately 200 people – and the Complexe Guy-Favreau, since Aug. 19, for a total of about 50 people. The site at the Hochelaga YMCA is set to open on Aug. 31 and will be able to accommodate around 65 people.

The city also said traditional centres are in the process of increasing their capacity and that about 200 people experiencing homelessness will receive housing support via the province’s rent supplement program through Societe d’habitation du Quebec.

In a joint statement, Samuel Watts, the president of Welcome Hall Mission and Matthew Pearce, the outgoing president of the Old Brewery Mission said the organizations’ initiative at the former Royal Victoria Hospital proves their commitment to working with other key players who serve vulnerable populations.

“The objective: to help people experiencing homelessness find permanent housing and thus end chronic homelessness in Montreal,” they said. 

Just last week, Plante said she wanted a tent city on Notre-Dame St. in the Hochelaga-Maisonneuve borough to come down -- but the people living there are asking to stay. Some, who just recently lost their homes, don't feel like they need to rely on shelters just yet and others, who have frequented them in the past, say they prefer to live on their own terms. 

"I don't think we're ready to leave right away," Guylain Levasseur, one of the people living in the tent city, told CTV News last week. "Probably a one-month extension could be good, the time to work this out. I am not ready to go sleep in a shelter."