Complaints dismissed, permit not required for London homeless shelter

The tents are set up on the Grey St. church's property. Jaclyn Carbone/980 CFPL

A city official is confirming bylaw complaints have been dismissed and no permit is required for tents on church property set up as part of a program to shelter homeless men.

Last Wednesday, Pastor Dan Morand of Beth Emanuel Church on Grey Street in London, Ont.’s SoHo neighbourhood said the tents would not be coming down despite complaints having been lodged with the city.

At the time, the bylaw office confirmed it had received at least five complaints, the majority of which focused on concerns regarding the safety of the tents.

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On Thursday, the city’s homeless prevention manager Craig Cooper told Global News Radio 980 CFPL that the site has been inspected.

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“I don’t know all the specifics of the building code but the building inspectors that were out there noted that the tents were set up far enough apart and the sizing was under the requirements for that building permit,” he explained.

“That was the determination — no building permit was required and they’ve closed their file.”

“We did mention with Dan last week to continue to contact ESA (electrical safety authority) to make sure any electrical work they need to do for the heaters are properly installed and inspected. As well, we’ve notified fire services to go out and have a conversation with Dan as well around any challenges they may have with the tents, but from our perspective on the complaints-basis, we’ve closed our file.”

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Morand and Urban Haven Project are planning to provide shelter for up to 20 homeless men looking to find work, enter rehab, return to school, or any other forward-momentum plan.

Cooper said the outreach team through London Cares will keep in contact with Morand and have requested that he keep them informed, as the program moves forward, so that they can help make sure that those involved aren’t discharged back into homelessness.

Click to play video: 'Oshawa man sleeps outside to raise awareness around homelessness' Oshawa man sleeps outside to raise awareness around homelessness
Oshawa man sleeps outside to raise awareness around homelessness – Dec 3, 2019

Cooper suggests that any other groups or agencies looking to take similar action consult the city early on.

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“[Morand is] focused on a specific population, focused on a specific type of support. He has qualified professional staff or volunteers that they’re going to be using. That was alleviating some of the potential concerns we had from our perspective around health and safety of the volunteers and the whole program,” he said.

“So anybody that’s looking to do some of these things, that’s why we would want to have those conversations early to make sure that we work through some of those potential opportunities and challenges and make sure that we’re very clear and they’re very clear on expectations and what potential outcomes of the program could be, things like that.”

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