TORONTO - The minister responsible for Ontario's poverty reduction strategy says the province is renovating a former youth jail for use as a shelter for Toronto's homeless.

City officials last week asked for help managing an increased demand for shelter services amid a bitter cold snap and the federal government offered the downtown Moss Park Armoury as a short-term solution.

Ontario Housing Minister Peter Milczyn says provincial staff have identified the former York Detention Centre as the best, and only, provincial location that meets the city's needs.

Milczyn says substantial renovations, including to the building's heating, cooling, plumbing and electrical systems, will need to be made in order for it be used.

He says the renovations are being expedited and it is expected that the site could be operational as a shelter space the week of Jan. 29.

Milczyn says the provincial government will be asking Ottawa to extend the use of the Moss Park Armoury as a temporary respite centre until the former detention centre is operational.