The Mayor of Aurora Tom Mrakas believes in “leadership that gets things done”. Except, I suppose, when it comes to providing shelter for homeless men.

On Thursday, at York Region’s Committee of the Whole, (7 March 2024) Mayor Mrakas will give his colleagues notice that he intends to bring forward a motion to a future Council meeting which proposes sheltering the homeless in underused York Region buildings, including its HQ:

WHEREAS York Region has recently adopted a true hybrid work policy where 60% of the staff will work only 50% of their work week on site;

WHEREAS Regional office buildings, including the 422,000 square foot Regional Head Office on Yonge Street will now, as a consequence, have sizeable areas of under and unused taxpayer funded office space available for other purposes;

Regional Staff be directed to undertake a review of all Regionally-owned buildings for the purposes of identifying those that are under and/or unused and provide an analysis of those that can be potentially repurposed for other regional priorities including supportive housing.


We shall see in due course if Tom is the leader that gets things done or if this is just a cack-handed and crude attempt to deflect the justified criticism he has been getting for the way he handled York Region’s application for the shelter at 14452 Yonge Street.

Newmarket Today has been tracking the story along with its readers. One. Two. Three and Four. 

Mrakas posted this on 14 February 2024 implying he asked York Region a year earlier to identify other potentially suitable alternative sites. However, the record shows he said nothing about this search for alternative sites at the meeting on 24 January 2023.

“A year ago, when this application was originally presented, instead of denying the application outright, this Council gave the applicant more time to conduct a site selection process – establish siting criteria, scan for potentially suitable properties, assign a score for each based on those criteria and provide the completed site selection matrix to this Council. Take the time to provide facts to support the applicants stated belief this is the BEST location for the proposed development and thus warrants the zoning amendments requested or to take the time to find a more appropriate site  in Aurora, one that aligns with the intent of our OP.

Unfortunately, that did not occur and we are left to consider, a year later, the same application with little additional facts to support the requested zoning amendments.”

Alternative sites

So, the question for me is whether, at any stage, he asked York Region to look for alternative sites or whether this is just a convenient ex post facto excuse for his inaction in the year between Aurora’s two Public Planning meetings that considered the Region’s application for a shelter.

So, eager to establish the truth of the matter, I file a Freedom of Information request with York Region. I am asking for sight of:

1.     ‘Records which indicate any requests made to York Region by Aurora Mayor Tom Mrakas, or any Town of Aurora staff requesting York Region to:

a)     Scan for and/or identify possible alternative sites for the proposed transitional housing / emergency shelter for men at 14452 Yonge Street,

b)     Create a site selection matrix ranking each potentially suitable property with a score.

2.     Records of York Region’s response to these requests.’

Timeframe: January 24, 2023, to February 13, 2024.  

I hope to get an answer by the time Tom brings forward his motion to Council.

Leaders who get things done don’t sit on their hands for a year and blame others when nothing happens.

This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Note: York Regional Council went into closed session in May 2023 and debated the Men’s Emergency and Transitional Housing issue for just over an hour. They decided for their own reasons not to support any action before the Ontario Land Tribunal on the Region’s Zoning By Law Amendment application for the proposed men’s emergency and transitional housing at 14452 Yonge Street in Aurora.

Update on 5 March 2024: From Newmarket Today: Aurora Streamling Planning Tools to expand Housing Options: Mayor

Update on 7 March 2024: From the Era: After rejecting man's shelter, Aurora Mayor wants to explore sheltering homeless in York Region's HQ