A Better Tent City to move into temporary location in Kitchener
KITCHENER -- A Better Tent City is moving into a new temporary home in the City of Kitchener.
In a Thursday news release, city officials said residents will move into a small portion of the Battler Road snow storage site. Around 50 people, who are currently living in small cabins at Lot42, will move to the new site.
"It's wonderful, amazing," said Nadine Green, A Better Tent City's site coordinator. "We're here and our family is together, that's what's important."
"Very happy about it. Finally it's like we got a place of our own," said resident Gail Mallaley.
The community had to move out by June 20 following the sale of the event space.
A Better Tent City will be able to use the temporary space until October. At that point, the city will need it for winter maintenance operations.
“The City of Kitchener has a long history of stepping up and working with our community to address social challenges like homelessness that face both our city and the broader region,” Mayor Berry Vrbanovic said in a news release. “The pandemic has reminded us of the importance of looking after our most vulnerable residents, and I’m proud that Kitchener council, with its priority on affordable housing, came forward to collaboratively support A Better Tent City and its residents.”
"I think compassion is what's driving the decision there, because it's a challenging decision as a municipal government and as a property owner," said Jeff Willmer, a volunteer with A Better Tent City. "But I think it's the recognition that this is a project that's working."
Leaders with A Better Tent City and The Working Centre plan to reach out to neighbours in the area in the coming days. Officials with The Working Centre have a "Good Neighbour Plan" to help create dialogue and accountability, while creating a "respectful relationship" with nearby residents.
The new site is down the street from a school, but the Waterloo Region District School Board says "we have developed a plan to maintain the safe operations of our school noting that students will not return to in person learning until September."
The facility on Battler Road isn't used in the summer months and has a large, paved surface with berms to offer privacy for residents.
A Better Tent City will continue looking for a permanent home.