Sudbury councillor opposes YMCA location as eating station for the city's vulnerable
SUDBURY -- The COVID-19 pandemic has had a huge impact on vulnerable populations everywhere, including Sudbury.
It has forced agencies that serve food to do take-out only, leaving many with no place to eat except outside.
In Sudbury, several options are being looked at, including establishing an eating station at Parkside Centre at the YMCA or setting up trailers across from the Samaritan Centre.
Right now, two charities operating at the Samaritan Centre are feeding about 150 people at lunch and close to 200 at supper, all take-out style.
"It provides dignity for people, it's terrible to see people eating outside of our facility. Our dining rooms will not be open any time soon with COVID regulations," said Lisa Long, the executive director of the Samaritan Centre.
City Councillor Bill Leduc has put forward a motion to set up trailers, including heated porta potties in a large parking lot across from the Samaritan Centre and is standing by it. He opposes an alternative eating station location at the YMCA.
"I have heard rumours that staff are looking at using Parkside as an eating station during the day. I find some very difficult challenges in doing that," said Leduc.
The councillor says the station could affect the YMCA’s existing programs and services.
"We have a daycare that is operated from 7 a.m in the morning till 6 p.m at night. The general public is using the YMCA they do have the gym running, they do have some programs going," said Leduc.
Agencies helping the vulnerable said a solution is needed soon because there is not enough room at the daytime warming centre to accommodate everyone during mealtimes.
"It's cold out. I think people need to be treated with dignity and care and respect. That means a warm place to eat. It means indoor bathrooms. It means the ability to wash your hands with warm, soapy water," Long said.
Leduc could find out the fate of his motion Tuesday night at the city council meeting.
If council passes the motion, he believes the site could be up and running by Dec. 1.