The City of Edmonton is using social innovation to improve Edmonton’s Urban Wellness
The City has been working with residents, businesses, agencies and government to develop a ‘Recover’ approach to improve urban wellness. Urban wellness includes economy vitality, social capacity, physical and mental health, built and natural environments. Bringing all kinds of people together, from businesses to residents to talk about their lived experiences, is not easy;If we can ensure the right systems are in place, we can promote and sustain conditions for people and neighbourhoods to thrive.
We use a social innovation framework which allows for constant learning, testing and adapting ideas, while considering their cumulative impact. This isn’t about replacing existing strategies, programs or services. It’s about testing small solutions to improve urban wellness and finding ways to align and collaborate across different orders of government, agencies, local businesses and the community.
$1.1M committed for public washrooms in Downtown Eastside Vancouver
Public spaces in downtown Vancouver becoming washrooms during the COVID-19 pandemic, as homeless residents ‘have no other options’
In Edmonton, outdoor library services set up for homeless
The Edmonton Public Library is taking some of its operations outside to give the city’s homeless a place to read books and magazines, use a laptop computer or participate in adult classes. Called EPL on the Square, the pilot project has three designated areas in Sir Winston Churchill Square for outdoor library services. The initiative is a collaboration between EPL and the City of Edmonton, was launched five days after the Edmonton EXPO Centre closed as a temporary drop-in day shelter. The city, social agencies and the province have been working on a plan to find hundreds of physically distanced spaces during the COVID-19 pandemic since the EXPO closed.
Charlottetown outreach facility relocates to allow increased capacity for vulnerable community members
The Community Outreach Centre has moved its operations to a local school’s gymnasium for the purpose of enhancing its capacity to provide vulnerable residents with services such as counselling, shower access and laundry facilities under the new health regulations of social distancing.
Downtown Eastside Community Resilience Taskforce
The City of Vancouver is organizing a multi-agency taskforce to generate engagement and harm reduction strategies as at-risk populations in the area face greater challenges during the crisis.
Recovery site for homeless COVID-19 patients offers dignity and a pathway to housing
The recovery site for COVID-positive homeless people is a unique collaboration between many health partners, government, addiction recovery supports, community & neighbourhood groups and Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontier Canada providing expertise on project co-ordination and logistics. Among the primary goals of the recovery site is treating homeless patients with dignity in a clinical setting and ensuring they have a home to go to afterward — not a return to homelessness.
British Columbia working with the Cities of Vancouver and Victoria to transition people living in encampments into temporary accommodations with wraparound supports
The Province of BC, in partnership with BC Housing and local municipalities, has worked to secure and operate 686 hotel and community centre accommodations in Vancouver and 324 hotel spaces in Victoria. This allows people from the encampments to safely physically distance, with access to important health, social and other supports.
City of Victoria acquires 115 motel rooms to house homeless population
These rooms are meant for people who have not displayed any symptoms of COVID-19, and one person will occupy each room. The rooms will be available to vulnerable people living outside in order to make sure they can meet physical distancing protocols put in place by the provincial health officer. The new locations will be administered by BC Housing and social service providers will be identifying people in the community who would be suitable to move in. Temporary outdoor homeless shelters at Royal Athletic Park and Topaz Park are currently being set up as temporary stopgap measures before authorities are able to find suitable indoor shelter spaces.
Canada’s libraries step up to help vulnerable people during pandemic
In Toronto, nine TPL branches have been converted into food distribution centers in the past few weeks, in partnership with three local food banks. In Montreal the Grande Bibliothèque, the largest library in Quebec has been transformed into a daytime respite space for homeless people.
Interactive map helps locate food resources across Toronto
The google map hopes to increase access to good food for all.
Newfoundland-based charity’s social enterprise is distributing meals & training during pandemic
Stella’s Circle offers housing, counselling and employment services to people who face many barriers to fully participating in their community. One of the initiatives of the organization is through its social enterprise, the Hungry Heart Cafe, which employs Stella’s Circle participants, providing them with food services training and experience. Customers of the Cafe have been invited to add $2 to their bill which goes towards a program referred to as Meals Squared. Individual, nutritious meals are then made available at no cost for participants. During the Stella’s Circle response to the pandemic, 1000 meals have been distributed to date. Stella’s Circle is also putting tech in the hands of homeless clients, in an effort to bridge the digital divide
Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) helping to open a 400 bed COVID-19 Recovery Site for Toronto’s homeless
The site is slated to launch in the near future and will offer social and medical supports for homeless COVID-19 patients, ensuring that residents are fully recovered before returning to Toronto’s shelter system. MSF will provide “consultative and supportive advice”. The provincially-funded Recovery Site marks MSF’s first-ever operation in Canada, given the organization does not typically focus on countries with well-functioning healthcare systems.
Hamilton’s biggest arena transforms into a homeless shelter
The conversion of the FirstOntario Centre Saturday included adding 50 carefully separated beds in the concourse of the hockey arena, dining tables on the de-iced rink surface and a medical clinic in the media lounge. Even the giant scoreboard that looms over the 17,383-seat area will be repurposed to show movies for residents who want to stay through the day
Construction of supportive housing development that will provide critical supports to vulnerable people will continue (even on Sundays) during COVID-19
The City of New Westminster provided the land for the project, which is being funded by the province through its Rapid Response to Homelessness Program and will house women who have or are at risk of experiencing homelessness. Construction will take place 7 days a week because of a critical shortage of construction workers due to COVID-19
Calgary establishes isolation spaces for homeless affected by COVID-19 at hotel and Telus Convention Centre
Calgary health officials determined that 100 units would be needed for homeless people who need a place to self-quarantine but don’t require hospitalization.The assisted self-isolation site can also be used by homeless people who have been in contact with someone who has tested positive or are experiencing an unrelated illness that makes them too sick to stay in a shelter. In addition to the medical staff, mental health and addiction support is on hand. Units have been retrofitted to safely house the new residents, CHF says.
Twitter thread by Toronto Councillor updating residents on provision of shelter for those experiencing homelessness
Includes information on hotels, motels, buildings acquired, shelters, overnight programs and funding to community partners to provide services
Montreal to provide more resources for the homeless, will open 5 outdoor day centres
The City of Montreal is opening five outdoor day centres, expanding shelter room for men and women, and adding temporary public toilets.
Hamilton to convert rec centres into COVID-19 self-isolation shelters for homeless residents
The City is also working to ensure existing drop-in spots have the resources necessary to stay open. The new “backstop” self-isolation sites will only accept homeless residents who are referred by shelter officials, doctors or hospital authorities. That means the city will not publicly release the rec centre locations.
Crowdsourced map of Toronto resources for vulnerable populations to access & share during #COVID19 crisis
Includes showers, washrooms, food banks, and drop-in centres for bagged, hot foods.
Public washrooms for the most vulnerable
The Region of Waterloo includes a list of open public washrooms for use by vulnerable community members
Public porta-potties installed as part of New Westminster’s COVID-19 response
The decision to provide portable washroom facilities is to ensure access to bathrooms for vulnerable populations, who may otherwise not have them, given all of the businesses being shuttered. It’s also for other residents.
Public washrooms for unsheltered persons considered an essential service in BC
This includes hygiene facilities (toilets, handwash stations, showers)
Portable washrooms open, campground closed to visitors as district deals with COVID-19
The District of Hope has added handicap accessible portable toilets in Memorial Park. They’ve also placed hand wash stations there as well, after closing public washrooms last week.
Public washrooms in Sechelt parks open from 7am to 9pm
Hamilton working with agencies to provide access to washrooms/showers for vulnerable residents
Information found on Hamilton’s Twitter account
Toronto Council Fire Native Cultural Centre posts lists of open Toronto Public Washroom locations
With so many businesses and public spaces closed, community members & clients have few places to use washrooms during COVID19
Minneapolis Offers People Experiencing Homelessness a Simple Gift: A Safe Place for Their Stuff
To support Minneapolis’ unhoused residents, the city has followed in the footsteps of other cities like San Diego and Los Angeles by partnering with a local organization to pilot a storage program for those experiencing homelessness. The pilot comes as a record number of people are experiencing homelessness across the state. The program allows people experiencing homelessness to store their belongings in bins located in a secure room. Belongings are checked in and out of bins by volunteers from Minneapolis’ Downtown Improvement District, the city’s partner in the venture.
Montreal declares local state of emergency over fears of COVID-19 outbreak among city’s homeless
The declaration of a local state of emergency gives the city the power to act quickly to take any measures it deems necessary. Montreal Mayor Valerie Plante said the city now has the power to take over private properties to shelter people and to order needed supplies or food quickly, as needed. Plante said the city is planning new, temporary homeless shelters in the coming days, as well as more outdoor day centres to provide food and other essential services.
Ottawa opens COVID-19 isolation and treatment centre for homeless
A local recreation centre in Ottawa is becoming an isolation and treatment centre for homeless people with confirmed or suspected cases of COVID-19. Ottawa Inner City Health says homeless people can be tested for the virus by a mobile assessment van, paramedics, as well as the typical assessment centre and hospitals.
City of Lethbridge is putting resources in place to help the city’s homeless population, including new spaces for social distancing and self-isolation
The Fritz Sick gymnasium will transition into a temporary homeless shelter to provide more square footage than the current homeless shelter. Rooms have also been secured at a local motel as a self-isolation unit for the homeless population.