Knox United Church in Kenora, Ont., hopes to house new homeless shelter

A church in Kenora, Ont., wants to become the home of the city's permanent homeless shelter.

City to go through zoning process to approve church for use as a shelter

A church in Kenora, Ont., wants to become the home of the city's permanent homeless shelter.

Knox United Church temporarily hosted the shelter in the summer of 2016, when the Kenora Fellowship Centre was unable to continue its shelter program. The Fellowship Centre was never set up as a full-service shelter, and was having difficulty keeping the program going.

Knox United will still have to go through a zoning process to have the church and its associated buildings properly zoned for use as a shelter.

"This has been something that, on a long term scale, Knox congregation and many, many, many community partners that have come to really feel a hard connection to," said Rev. Meg Illman-White, who is the minister at Knox United.

"[They] have developed an enormous number of skills for doing that work."

Illman-White said the congregation has served meals for a number of years to the homeless though its Agape Table and Opening Our Doors program. 

"Knox has been actively involved in providing meals for homeless people, and people who just need someone to sit down with at a mealtime, for three to five years now."

Illman-White said it was in the spring of 2017 that the Kenora District Services Board first approached the church to host the shelter. For the past year and a half, the homeless shelter has been in the basement of the Northwestern Health Unit, although that organization made it clear that it would only house the facility on a temporary basis — up to two years.

"I think it says that we're really starting to understand as a community how important it is to work together. Especially on behalf of the most vulnerable segment of our population," Illman-White said.

"Also on behalf of people who are coming through Kenora on their way to somewhere else."

About the Author

Jeff Walters

Reporter/Editor

Born and raised in Thunder Bay, Jeff is proud to work in his hometown, as well as throughout northwestern Ontario. Away from work, you can find him skiing (on water or snow), curling, out at the lake or flying.