The City of Ottawa says it will be moving a few dozen men who are currently staying at a temporary physical distancing centre in the Jim Durrell Arena to a smaller community centre.
The City transformed the arena on Walkley Road into a temporary shelter for homeless men in May, amid the COVID-19 pandemic, which was putting a strain on other shelters in the city that lacked the space to allow for proper physical distancing.
The City set up 142 beds at the arena, but it only ever held a maximum of 80 men at any one time. The City says, right now, 39 people are staying there.
"The initial assessment of need for the Jim Durrell Physical Distancing Centre was estimated at 100-150 shelter users, however, capacity has fluctuated between 40 to 45 shelter users," said Shelley VanBuskirk the City's director of housing services, in a memo to councillors, sent Tuesday. "The site is currently underutilized and could be used more efficiently as a recreational facility and support Phase 2 of the City’s recovery plan to reopen and augment services such as recreation."
VanBuskirk says the men will be moved to the Dempsey Community Centre on Russell Road.
"The Dempsey Community Centre was chosen as it best responds to operational needs for use as a physical distancing centre. Additionally, the community centre’s proximity to Jim Durrell allows for easier transition for clients and services already being provided," VanBuskirk said.
The community centre is about 5 km away from the arena by car.
VanBuskirk said the community centre would offer the same amenities as the arena did.
"The site will support physical distancing, providing placements for single men, shelter users aged 18 years and older, with low to moderate acuity (who require little to no supports). The Centre will offer similar amenities such as dining space, bathrooms, showers, common sleeping areas, and include access to computers, Wi-Fi and televisions, meals and case management services to support people to transition to permanent housing," she said.
Plans are underway to move the men out of the Jim Durrell Arena this week.