North Bay's plan to get homeless off the streets at night this winter
NORTH BAY -- A vacant building located in downtown North Bay won’t be empty much longer. In a few weeks, the building will be turned into the city’s second temporary warming centre during the winter months.
"If this location wasn’t available, I assume we wouldn’t have enough beds," said Nipissing Mental Health Housing & Support Services Executive Director Mary Davis.
Several community agencies will work together to provide 18 beds for those in need. The building's former tenant is pleased to see the facility be put to use for a good cause.
"Whatever we can do to continue to be part of a solution for this problem is something we really want to do," said former tenant Ben Farella
The building will undergo some touch ups before it’s ready for operation.
"Nothing major; something like: alarms, fire alarms, signage, that kind of thing, a couple of doors here and there,” said City Councillor Dave Mendicino.
Transitional housing was identified as an issue during the mayor’s roundtable meeting awhile back, and while this is only a temporary solution for this winter, officials continue to look for a permanent way to help the homeless.
"We need a longer-term solution. We think 18 beds will be enough for now, along with the warming centre over at The Gathering Place," said Davis.
North Bay's soup kitchen, The Gathering Place, is set to open its warming centre location on Dec. 1.
Both shelters will operate seven days a week from 7 p.m. to 7 a.m., in an attempt to meet the demand in the homeless community and give people a warm place to sleep during the winter months.
Meanwhile, staff at The Gathering Place hopes to squeeze in a few more beds.
"We’re working towards 15-17 at our place. Is this the permanent solution? Not necessarily. But this is great solution for this winter for sure," said Dennis Chippa, the executive director of The Gathering Place.
The facility will have one paid staff member, who works with people dealing with mental health and addictions.
The cost of running the facility will be paid by the city and the local social services board.