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Plans taking shape as region announces location of first hybrid shelter


The Region of Waterloo has announced the location of its first hybrid shelter, sometimes referred to as a managed encampment.

The site will be set up on regionally-owned land at 1001 Erbs Road on the border of the City of Waterloo and the Township of Wilmot, the region revealed Tuesday.

The property is home to the region’s Emergency Services Training and Research Centre campus which includes paramedic services, the landfill, and a training facility for multiple emergency services.


The hybrid shelter will be home to up to 50 people, each with their own small cabin, equipped with electricity, heating and air conditioning. A main cabin complex will provide running water, washrooms, laundry services and space for meals.

“This is really intended to be a small little community,” Region of Waterloo commissioner of community services Peter Sweeney said.

“It’s a interim solution as we work to eradicate homelessness across this community over the next few years and it’s a response to those who are currently living unsheltered who said, this is something if we built it, they would come.”

The Working Centre will manage the hybrid shelter and staff will be on site 24/7. The group was one of two who applied for the job. Addictions and mental health support will be provided on site, along with connections to permanent housing options.

“Ideally, people leave healthier than they arrive, it’s a safer environment for them, and they have access to the supports that they need,” Sweeney said.

The Working Centre has previously told CTV News it would model the regional site after A Better Tent City.


The region’s announcement about the hybrid shelter location comes as it seeks to clear people living at the encampment at the corner of Victoria and Weber streets. At times, as many as 60 tents have been located on the downtown property. A case is currently before the courts and a ruling on the region’s eviction order is expected by the end of the year.

Sweeney said people living in unsanctioned encampments on regional property will be prioritized for access to the hybrid shelter.

Those at the Victoria Street encampment on Tuesday who spoke with CTV News said they love the idea, although they're not sold on the location.

"I would do anything to have something warm to put my head down at night. That would be fantastic... just to get back on my feet. That's stability," said Jessica, who lives at the site. "If I had the chance to have a little home, I would take care of it."

"I'd definitely be open to it," said Jay, another resident of 100 Victoria Street.

However, both had reservations about the location. They said access to services is a must.

"There's not really any services out there," Jay said. "As of right now, I don't know one community centre out there that supports homeless people, I don't know of one shelter."

"I don't know why they couldn't just do that here," Jessica said. "We have all the things around us to help the homeless."

Despite concerns with the location, everyone CTV News spoke to said they would be willing to give the hybrid shelter a try, if they were asked.

A survey conducted by the region earlier this year found around half the residents of the region’s three largest encampments would be willing to relocate to a managed encampment in another city.

Sweeney said the details and site plan are still being worked out, but the region is already considering creating more hybrid shelters in the future.

“There’s things here that are still uncertain about how all this is going to work, and to the degree people are all going to take us up on it, and so we have to learn from that before we start thinking about the next one, but we want to be clear that we may need more of this because the scale of the crisis is significant.”

The region aims to open the new hybrid shelter at the beginning of February. Top Stories

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