SUDBURY -- Homelessness in Sudbury continues to be a major concern for many in the city, including a local restaurant owner who is planning a demonstration Friday in support of the homeless.

Deke Zaher, owner of Zaher’s Small Batch, has planned the demonstration called 'One Cold Night.'

Participants plan to occupy the Bridge of Nations from 7 p.m. on Friday to 7 a.m. on Saturday.

“It’s an empathy bomb on the City of Sudbury,” said Zaher. “When we’re thinking of a solution to the problem, we really got to dig dip to the roots and what it comes down to is homelessness, mental health and addictions.”

Due to COVID-19, Zaher understands some people may not want to participate, so he is encouraging them to donate a blanket Friday evening.

Bring a blanket

“If you are not going to participate, bring a blanket for the participants,” he said. “They will be collected and donated subsequently after the event to those in need.”

Zaher’s demonstration comes the same week as two Sudbury city councillors are working towards getting what they call “warm eating trailers” at the parking lot across from the Elgin Street Mission.

Ward 11 Coun. Bill Leduc and Ward 5 Coun. Rob Kirwan brought the matter forward at Tuesday's council meeting. While the finance committee approved the $175,000 project, it must still be formally approved by city council.

The United Way, the Lougheed Foundation, downtown churches, and other organizations were also planning to donate to the project.

“I do really hope that council will see their way to pass this motion -- it’s desperately needed,” said Leduc.

See the benefits

His hope was to have the trailers up and running by Nov. 23 and keep them open to the public until April 30 next year.

“This is helping reduce the garbage in the downtown core," Leduc said. "I do believe the businesses downtown will see the benefits of this.”

The Elgin Street Mission was feeding more than 200 people a day when COVID-19 originally hit. Since the temperature has dropped, Chaplain Amanda Robichaud told CTV News the Mission hasn’t been as busy.

“When they opened the warming centre 1.8 kilometres away, we saw a dip," Robichaud said. "What we're thinking is happening, is that their not making their way over to us to get their meals … People are skinnier. Something like this, right in the same vicinity is essential to our clientele."

Leduc said he is “thinking positive” and hopes the plan is approved. If so, the two trailers will eventually be open from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m.

Between the two trailers, 22 people can warm up and eat at a time, and in total the trailers can host 66 people throughout the day.