SUDBURY -- In only a few hours, Sudbury resident Darren Ransom was able to make a small, insulated, portable shelter. He used plastic pipes to make the frame, Styrofoam for the walls and included a vent at the back for circulation.

With the help of his cousin, Todd Provincial, the small $400 structure is complete and ready to be given to Ransom’s friend, who currently lives in a tent on the streets.

“My friend had given me the idea to build them, and then God kind of put it on me to build it,” said Ransom.

“We live in a beautiful country like Canada, and it’s shocking to me. It actually makes me so mad to see people sleeping on the streets.”

Ransom is a contractor in Sudbury was an addict himself for 14 years.

He had help building the shelter from Provincial, who has first-hand experience being homeless. He was homeless up until Ransom offered him a room at his home.

'Makes no sense to me'

“I was released from prison in March," Provincial said. "With COVID-19 going on, there’s hardly any work, so up until three weeks ago I was homeless."

“I was willing to go to jail again for the winter, and that would’ve cost the city a lot more money. It makes no sense to me.”

Ransom knows these small shelters are not a permanent solution. But he does have plans to make more if the city doesn’t “step up,” he said, and find somewhere for the homeless to stay.

“These shelters, if the city doesn’t give us a spot to put them, they’re gonna end up in the bush, and they’re going to end up abandoned in there,” he said.

“Right now, I don’t care about a mess, I care about people not living outside. But if the city doesn’t want a mess to have to clean up, we need a spot to be able to put them for these people.”

With cold weather on the way, Ransom said his small structures are better designed for the winter than a non-insulated tent -- or sleeping under a bridge.

Somewhere to sleep

“We’re just trying to give people somewhere to sleep during the winter," he said. "It’s going to -30, -40 outside and they have no where to go.”

“They have a shelter, but no one likes to go there. They have a shopping cart full of things that you can’t take in with you, so if you leave it outside it gets stolen and now you have nothing.”

Now, Ransom is giving away his first completed shelter to his friend, who used to work for him but is currently living on the streets.

Last month about a half dozen people who lived in tents at Memorial Park downtown were evicted by Sudbury bylaw officers, because the zoning bylaw prohibits camping on public property that is not zoned for that use.

The shelters were intentionally made light weight and made easier to take a part so that if people using them are told to leave, they can pack up and bring the shelter with him.

Ransom said he’s going to shop around for cheaper supplies and then with the help of his cousin they will start building more shelters.