A controversy boiling over in the Esplanade neighbourhood over a new respite site is the latest flare-up in tensions the city is grappling with as it tries to social distance homeless people in Toronto’s shelter system.

A new interim 24-hour respite site for 28 homeless males that opened in June on the Esplanade near Church Street has nearby residents, particularly seniors, upset and calling for its removal.

“I’m not a person who gets scared, but it’s the first time in 23 years that I don’t feel secure in my neighbourhood,” said Joyce Barnes, 76, who teaches meditation and lives next door to the site.