West end residents voice their concerns over the homelessness hub

About 50 people turned out to voice their concerns over the proposed location of the city's plans to locate the new Homelessness, Housing Help Hub (H4) at 700 Wellington Avenue last night.

"Everybody's concerned about what can happen to their properties," said McKay Avenue resident Thomas Colley who helped organized the meeting in Wilson Park outside the Adie Knox Community Centre.

The hub, expected to open in a minimum of three years, is on 2.8 hectares of land just south of Wyandotte Street West. The city's commissioner of human health and services, Andrew Daher, has previously called it a "giant step forward" for the community. He says it will include at least 64 one-bedroom transitional support housing units, and space for programming services and other amenities.

Lynda Nelson said she's not opposed to the H4, just the location.

"They're going to spend $16 million [$15.4 million] to put an ice rink in front of the arena downtown and they're going to take the homeless from where they are now near their services, four blocks away from where they eat and move them over here," said Nelson, who also is critical of the city spending money to expropriate the land when the former social services building is available on Louis Ave.

The meeting got lively at times with people shouting that they believe the hub will increase crime and compromise their safety.

"We don't need the headaches. City should keep it downtown at that aquatic centre where it belongs," said Colley.

"Over the last four or five years you've seen the problem with the drugs, fentanyl, Percocet, crack cocaine. It's just ridiculous," said Wellington Avenue resident Doug Tessier.

The proposed location is in Ward 3 but right on the border with Ward 2. Ward 2 Coun. Fabio Costante attended the meeting to answer questions and clarify what the H4 will be, explaining that it will be transitional housing with mental and other health supports.

The location of Windsor's new homelessness housing hub is at 700 Wellington Avenue on the city's west-side.
The location of Windsor's new homelessness housing hub is at 700 Wellington Avenue on the city's west-side. (Chris Ensing/CBC)

But Costante is opposed to location as well.

"I think the hub should be more centrally located where where there's more services that provide service to individuals experiencing homelessness, mental health and addiction," said Costante, adding that the expropriation procedure will be time consuming and costly and he is also concerned about the Downtown Mission locating there as well.

Costante will bring a petition that was signed by the area residents to city council next month.