Thunder Bay

Homeless shelter in Kenora, Ont., to remain open until August 18

The homeless shelter in Kenora will remain open for another week because of concerns for its most-vulnerable patrons, the social services board in the northwestern Ontario city said Monday.

Shelter is part of city's Service Hub, which is closed for 45 days for safety, programming evaluation

The Kenora Service Hub, located in the Knox United Church annex, is closed for 45 days so an evaluation of its safety and programming can take place. (Amy Hadley/CBC)

The homeless shelter in Kenora, Ont.,  will remain open for another week because of concerns for its most-vulnerable patrons, the social services board said Monday.

The shelter is part of the city's Service Hub operation, which is closed for 45 days to evaluate its programming and overall safety.

Henry Wall, chief administrative officer of the Kenora District Services Board, which funds the Service Hub, said a number of things have changed since the facility opened six months ago in the small city, which is about 500 kilometres northwest of Thunder Bay. 

Community changes

"We had a major fire in the downtown core that destroyed a significant, multi-residential building," Wall said, adding that an estimated 70 people were displaced by the blaze.

Kenora has also seen an increase in methamphetamine use, he said.

That combination of factors has put added pressure on the Service Hub, Wall said, and raised concerns about the safety for staff and patrons.

"We needed some time to step back, and also to make some physical adjustments to the building itself, to ensure that the Service Hub can meet the new reality and the needs of the community," Wall said. "But also to ensure that as a community, we come together and figure out how to address the current health care crisis, particularly with regards to mental health and addictions."

Shelter remains open

That 45-day closure period began Monday. However, Wall said, more time was needed to ensure the most-vulnerable clients still had a safe place to stay at night. Therefore, the Service Hub's homeless shelter will remain open overnight until August 18.

Wall said the extra time will help find places for vulnerable people to stay overnight during the remainder of the Service Hub's closure period.

He said it's an effort to make sure "those who really need the service aren't put back onto the streets, and made even more vulnerable."

The board said services usually provided by the Service Hub, such as meals, will be available through other community agencies during the closure.

Wall said the shelter has a 44-bed capacity, and about 35 people use it each night.