Windsor

Emergency shelter at aquatic centre still not ready as numbers spike among shelter residents

The opening of the emergency shelter being constructed at the Windsor International Aquatic and Training facility remains uncertain while the number of positive cases of COVID-19 among residents at both the Downtown Mission and the Salvation Army have spiked.

There are 115 cases of COVID-19 between the Salvation Army and the Downtown Mission

Kirk and Daren are both staying at the old library location of the Downtown Mission which will be moved to the aquatic centre when its ready. (Jacob Barker/CBC)

The emergency shelter being constructed at the Windsor International Aquatic and Training facility didn't open Wednesday as hoped and exactly when it will open remains uncertain.

The delay comes while the number of positive cases of COVID-19 among residents at both the Downtown Mission and the Salvation Army have spiked.

"We're living our lives, everyone is," Kirk, who would only offer his first name, said. 

The shelter at the Salvation Army saw an additional 25 cases bringing their total to 34, while the Downtown Mission saw its numbers jump from 70 cases up to 81.

The city said Monday that it anticipated the aquatic centre would be ready by Wednesday to deal with the crisis of outbreaks at the shelters.. But as of the afternoon, it had still not opened and the city gave no indication of why the opening was delayed or when it may be opened.

The Downtown Mission was ordered closed by the Windsor-Essex County Health Unit earlier this week but the organisation had already voluntarily shut down its locations and moved into the old library. (Jacob Barker/CBC)

"Everyone involved continues to work hard at getting the temporary site ready," Jason Moore, Senior Manager of Communications and Customer Service for the city said. 

"Rest assured the agencies involved will be communicating directly with clients." 

When asked, Ron Dunn, the executive director of the Downtown Mission said it looked like the opening would happen Thursday.

Living through it

The Mission's regular locations were shut down officially by order of the health unit earlier this week, though the organization had already taken that step and moved into the old library site on Ouellette. 

Kirk said he had a couple of friends who did test positive for COVID-19 and are now in isolation. 

"It must be hell, living in the hotel for 14 days," he said, adding that while he wasn't concerned about contracting the virus, he did feel strongly about keeping himself safe from it.

"We do our part," he said.

Daren, who also asked to be referred to by his first name only, had no idea that people staying at the Mission would be moving to the aquatic centre. 

Crews working Tuesday to prepare the Windsor International Aquatic and Training Centre as an emergency shelter. (Jacob Barker/CBC)

"That's new to me," he said.

Lisa Valente, who is an advocate for people experiencing homelessness, said all the changes in location can lead to confusion for people.

"It was at the library but you cant be at the library, you can't be at the mission, you can't be at the sanctuary and now they're moving to another location," she said.

We all stick together, it'll be no different because we deal with what we got to deal with.- Daren

"It's hard to get that message across where they're going and where there going to be tonight." 

For anybody who does need a place to go, the city says that this situation is being treated like an emergency such as a fire, and if someone shows up with a need, it will work to support them. 

"In the situation that some of us are in, we're like family, we all stick together and we're like family, it'll be no different," Daren said. 

"We all stick together, it'll be no different because we deal with what we got to deal with." 

 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Jacob Barker

Videojournalist

Jacob Barker is a videojournalist for CBC Windsor.

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