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Update on the vulnerable and street-involved in the downtown core
Hello BIA members,
Below is an update on items involving the vulnerable and street-involved in downtown Kingston.
In March 2022 I wrote a blog called Homelessness, Mental Health and Addictions that details several recommendations that were passed at a March 1 City of Kingston Council meeting in the Downtown Improvement Plan. For more details refer to Downtown Improvement Plan Approved. The recommendations were as follows:
- That Council endorse the short and medium-term Downtown Improvement Plan recommendations included in Exhibit A of Report Number 22-080; and
- That Council approve up to $150,000 from the Social Services Stabilization Fund to support the addition of two (2) one-year Outreach Workers within the existing Street Outreach Program operated by Home Base Housing, to be dedicated to the City’s downtown area; and
- That Council approve up to $200,000 from the Social Services Stabilization Fund to extend the operations of the “Warming Centre” located at 218 Concession Street, in partnership with United Way, Lionhearts and Home Base Housing, for a period of three (3) months, until the end of June 2022 to allow time for homeless and housing services to stabilize; and
- That Council approve up to $100,000 from the Working Fund Reserve to cover the costs of equipment and beautification material to improve cleanliness downtown; and
- That Council direct staff to report back to Council by March 2023 with information on progress and outcome of the Downtown Improvement Plan recommendations.
Many of the recommendations listed above have begun to take shape including the hiring of two street outreach workers dedicated to the downtown core. I have been working with Home Base Housing, the City of Kingston Bylaw, and Kingston Police on a 'one-call' process for our members that we are piloting over the next month. Click to read about the 'One-Call' program details and educate your staff. Let me know if you encounter any challenges with the program so that we can work to improve it. A postcard that can be placed at cash to assist employees will be delivered next week.
Last Wednesday, June 29th, there was a Special Meeting of Council to review recommendations from staff on Encampment Pilot Project and Homelessness Services Options.
I, along with several partner organizations (Tourism Kingston, Kingston Accommodation Partners, Chamber of Commerce, Speak Kingston) participated in delegations to council highlighting concerns about disruptive behaviours frequently occurring in the downtown core that are of concern to many of our members. You can watch the meeting using the below link for more information.
YouTube Special Meeting of Council (6 hours in length): Kingston, Ontario - City Council - June 29, 2022
I will continue to work on this file with our partner organizations, the City of Kingston, Kingston Police, and Social Services as we balance the needs of our vulnerable with the needs of our business and property owners with the end goal to provide everyone with fair and equitable access to a wide range of locations and services in a welcoming environment that is free from discrimination and harassment. I will keep you updated using the Members bulletin and the Members Blog. Please don’t hesitate to reach out directly to me if you want to be involved or if you have questions.
Downtown Kingston BIA