After struggling for months to keep their emergency shelter open, the Kenora Fellowship Centre will be winding up the program as of July 1, with plans to eventually transition the program to a location run by the Ne-Chee Friendship Centre.
In the May issue, the Record reported that the Kenora Centre was urgently seeking funding in order to keep the emergency shelter running as staff struggled with a new zoning bylaw that would force them to move the shelter.
This bylaw states that shelters can only be located in residential zones, not in the downtown core where the shelter is currently located. The Ne-Chee Friendship Centre hoped to take over the shelter program in order to keep serving the homeless community in the city.
The Ne-Chee Friendship Centre is working on moving into a new location closer to the downtown in order to better serve the community. With the bylaw in place, they are struggling to find an area to put the shelter that would be accessible to those who need it, while still abiding by the city’s zoning laws.
“It’s very frustrating,” Nicole Leighton, the fundraising and communications coordinator of the Kenora Fellowship Centre said. “[Ne-Chee’s] going to find a location, but we don’t know where, or if we’ll be able to merge with them. A lot of this is up in the air.”
An amendment to the bylaw that would have allowed shelters to operate in commercial areas was defeated by the Kenora city council on June 14..They cited a need for a more long-term solution, and concerns that the amendment would not give the city authority over the shelter’s location, opening up potential conflict with local businesses.
An online poll conducted on the city website found that 70 per cent of respondents were in favour of the amendment.
However with limited funds and the bylaw still in place, the shelter is forced to close.
Photo: Some male clients share a meal at the Kenora Fellowship Centre. Photo courtesy of Yvonne Bearbull.