Kenora’s emergency shelter will start up at its new location in October, and will stay at Knox United Church until 2038.
The Kenora District Services Board has announced the completed integration efforts and partnerships with Knox United Church and the Ne-Chee Friendship Centre for Kenora’s emergency shelter. A 20-year lease agreement has been finalized, and the shelter will reside permanently at Knox United Church.
The services board says that the lease agreement and partnership will establish long-term sustainability for the shelter, something that has eluded the service providers for the past two years.
“The new shelter will now be able to provide the patrons with more than just a place to sleep at night,” says Patti Fairfield, Executive Director of the Ne-Chee Friendship Centre.
“The Friendship Centre has 21 programs that cover everything from pre-birth to the elderly, health, employment/training, education, culture and social service programs which allows us to work with people in a holistic manner. We will not only be able to draw on all of our programs but also the expertise of outside agencies, programs and services.”
The construction will renovate the existing Knox United Gym and the area above it into a permanent emergency shelter. The shelter will be available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week as a space for occasional use, as well as people who need a safe place to call home “for a while.” The construction will renovate the existing areas, and will include full sleeping, showering, washroom, supportive services, socializing and eating facilities
“We are thankful to Knox United Church for opening its doors in a way that will allow the community of Kenora to come together and develop a place that will be focused on providing care and support to people,” says Henry Wall, Chief Administrative Officer of the KDSB.
“Over the coming months, we will support the Ne-Chee Friendship Centre in developing a program and service model that will be culturally sensitive and based on healing as opposed to one based simply on providing shelter.”
The support for the project has already been seen in the community. In January, Kenora councillors all approved the proposed project. In December, Kenora’s Planning Advisory Committee also approved the proposal.
“We are getting calls from citizens. It’s wonderful that people want to take part and contribute. It’s just been amazing show of support, from children to adults,” says Knox United Reverand Meg Illman-White. “ The community is really watching this project, and has been very supportive. The community support has been huge.” She adds that any donations for the shelter should be directed to the Ne-Chee Friendship Centre.
Nelson Architecture has been awarded the design contract and tendering for the construction, which is anticipated to begin in mid-May. The expected completion date has been set for October 2018. During the construction and renovation, the temporary emergency shelter will continue to operate at the Northwestern Health Unit.