Windsor's new emergency shelter to open Thursday, Downtown Mission says

·2 min read
Crews working Tuesday to prepare the Windsor International Aquatic and Training Centre as an emergency shelter. (Jacob Barker/CBC - image credit)
Crews working Tuesday to prepare the Windsor International Aquatic and Training Centre as an emergency shelter. (Jacob Barker/CBC - image credit)

The executive director of the Downtown Mission says a new emergency shelter for those who have tested positive for COVID-19 is opening up to the city's most vulnerable.

Rev. Ron Dunn said on CBC Radio's Windsor Morning that people will begin moving to the Windsor International Aquatic and Training Centre on Thursday.

"My staff are going to be staffing it mainly and so many of them are going to be reporting there this morning," he told host Tony Doucette.

Clients are expected to start moving in Thursday afternoon.

The opening of the shelter was prompted by large COVID-19 outbreaks among people experiencing homelessness in Windsor-Essex.

As of Wednesday, there are 81 cases among clients and staff at the Downtown Mission, and 34 related to an outbreak at the Salvation Army shelter.

The city's existing isolation and recovery shelter had become full amid the outbreaks, creating a scramble to accomodate those affected.

Windsor's International Aquatic and Training Centre is being transformed into an emergency shelter.
Windsor's International Aquatic and Training Centre is being transformed into an emergency shelter.

When the city announced that a second space would be opening up to respond to the crisis, officials initially said Wednesday would be the target date but as of that afternoon, it had still not opened and the city gave no indication of why the opening was delayed or when it may be opened.

The Mission's two main locations were shut down officially by order of the health unit earlier this week, though the organization had already taken that step and moved into the former Windsor Public Library site on Ouellette Avenue.

Dunn said on Windsor Morning that screening measures and other protocols were in place prior to the outbreak and the Mission was in contact with city officials and the health unit on outbreak plans.

Nonetheless, Dunn said he felt it was inevitable that someone at the shelter would contract COVID-19.

Dr. Wajid Ahmed, medical officer of health for the region, has previously noted the vulnerabilities within the homeless population to COVID-19, and challenges in preventing transmission.