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Community consultations on Timmins homeless shelter wrapping up

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A review of Timmins’ Living Space homeless shelter is wrapping up amid calls for a relocation and improvements in its services.

Recently, a Toronto firm completed its final round of community consultations gathering a variety of perspectives on the issue.

The consensus from the review process is that Timmins’ crime, addiction, mental health and homelessness issues are unacceptable.

However, the dividing line is whether moving the shelter to a different location will solve them.

"All location options for the shelter are feasible, but there are risks associated with each," said Nicole Swerhun of Third Party Public.

"We also heard loud and clear, that there are improvements that need to be made to the shelter […] regardless of the location."

Swerhun’s latest consultations indicate that the city’s problems may not be tied to Living Space and could worsen if it moves.

Some suggest it would better to address the shelter’s undertrained staff and lack of services.

Shelter data revealed that the vast majority of its clients have intensive needs that staff can’t handle alone and that resources are strapped all around.

"Hoping that, in the weeks to come from today, that Third Party will be able to sharpen a little bit more into some actionable items for all of the parties," said Brian Marks of the Cochrane District Social Services Administration Board.

During the consultation process, members of the local homeless community offered ideas like public washroom and shower access, and separate areas for clients with acute needs.

Several people who attended the consultation spoke to the crowd.

"We’re claiming an ownership of them and saying 'this is our issue,' when there’s little to no effort to listen to what they’ve been through," one consultation participant said.

"And their solutions, a lot of them are so simple and they don’t cost millions of dollars,” said another.

Some residents are calling for less division and more healing and compassion.

Public consultations wrap up on Living Space homeless shelter in Timmins. Feb. 19/24 (Sergio Arangio/CTV Northern Ontario)

"It affects everybody, impacts everybody. It doesn’t matter, doesn’t matter what colour," said an attendee.

"You can’t just burn everything down, you can’t just move the Living Space or shut it down," said another.

Another participant at the consultation noted that the shelter clients need help.

"These people need help and why aren’t we helping them? We’re complaining, we’re being disrespectful," they said.

Timmins residents provided input on zthe Living Space homeless shelter. Feb. 19/24 (Sergio Arangio/CTV Northern Ontario)

Swerhun said the review isn’t meant to dictate a solution, but to explore potential ones with everyone affected.

A final report is expected later this month, after which a committee will propose an action plan to city council.

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