A look inside the old Sudbury hotel that's now home to a homeless shelter

About 35 homeless people in Sudbury are bedding down in an old south end hotel every night during the pandemic. The Off the Street Shelter was moved there, because physical distancing wasn't possible at its downtown location.

Isolation unit for those experiencing COVID-19 symptoms has so far housed 10 people, all tested negative

Cindy Rose says there were jokes about room service. At first.

But now it's clear to the clients of the Off the Street homeless shelter that while they are staying in an old hotel during the pandemic, it is still a shelter with the same rules as before.

"We don't necessarily want people to get too comfortable in the surroundings that we have," says Rose, manager of harm reduction and shelter services for the Canadian Mental Health Association in Sudbury.

"We're thankful that we can have the opportunity to provide it, however we really want people to understand the need for them and what they deserve is a home."

About 35 people per night have been sleeping in the old Cardinal Motor Inn on Regent Street since the shelter moved there at the start of the pandemic.

Rose says physical distancing wasn't possible at their regular location in downtown Sudbury and adds their clients have a tough time with it in general.

Cindy Rose is the manager of harm reduction and shelter services for the Canadian Mental Health Association in Sudbury. (Erik White/CBC)

"It's just challenging for them, because when they're in their community, they're often together. So it's a challenging community to instill the importance of the physical distancing," says Rose.

She says having a real bed instead of a cot and access to a shower has definitely lifted spirits.

The Canadian Mental Health Association, which runs the shelter in partnership with the City of Greater Sudbury, wasn't sure how many clients it would see at a shelter in the south end, and this is the first year the emergency shelter has been operated through spring and summer.

The second floor of the old Cardinal Motor Inn is being used to isolate homeless people who may have COVID-19. So far, 10 suspected cases have stayed in the 'warm zone' and tested negative. (Erik White/CBC )

The second floor of the old hotel is being used to isolate homeless people who might have contracted COVID-19, divided into a "warm zone" for suspected cases and a "hot zone" for those who have tested positive.

Rose says they've yet to have anyone stay in the hot zone, but ten people have been isolated in hotel rooms, provided with iPads and televisions to convince them to wait in the isolation unit until they get their test results. 

About the Author

Erik White


Erik White is a CBC journalist based in Sudbury. He covers a wide range of stories about northern Ontario. Connect with him on Twitter @erikjwhite. Send story ideas to


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