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COVID-19: Cobourg, Ont. high school to be used as emergency shelter amid coronavirus pandemic

Cobourg Collegiate Institute will be used as a temporary emergency shelter for homeless people amid the coronavirus pandemic.
Cobourg Collegiate Institute will be used as a temporary emergency shelter for homeless people amid the coronavirus pandemic. Kawartha Pine Ridge District School Board

A high school in Cobourg, Ont. will be used as an emergency shelter for the homeless during the coronavirus pandemic.

On Friday, Northumberland-Peterborough South MPP David Piccini announced Cobourg Collegiate Institute will become a temporary shelter for the homeless in response to capacity issues and challenges to meet public health guidelines at Transition House Emergency Shelter, the town’s main homeless shelter.

The setup is believed to be the first of its kind in Ontario. The plan is in partnership with the Kawartha Pine Ridge District School Board and the Haliburton, Kawartha, Pine Ridge District Health Unit.

READ MORE: 3 new cases of COVID-19 confirmed in Northumberland County; 1 new case in City of Kawartha Lakes

“It is important that our government takes decisive action to protect citizens during this difficult time,” said Piccini. “Under the leadership of Premier Ford, our government is being proactive in solving problems affecting our most vulnerable.”

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Piccini said the plan was developed within 48 hours to make the shelter a reality to ensure residents are safe, maintaining social distancing and meeting public health guidelines. A timeline for how long the school will be used as a shelter was not provided.

To date there are four confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Northumberland County.

Diane Lloyd, chairperson of the school board, says the “unprecedented times” require uncommon actions to support communities.

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“As an organization, we take great pride in being a responsive and caring community partner,” she said. “When the need was presented to us by MPP Piccini and others, it was our pleasure to open our doors to Transition House. We will continue to do all that we can to help as we work through these difficult days.”

READ MORE: Coronavirus: Ontario government launches online program for students out of school

Anne Newman, executive direction of Transition House, says the health and safety of their clients is the top priority.

“The temporary relocation of emergency shelter services to Cobourg Collegiate Institute will enable us to implement the recommended social distancing measures in our operations, and strengthen prevention against COVID-19 in the emergency shelter system,” she stated. “Thanks to a united effort by community partners to make this move possible, Transition House is positioned to maintain our current capacity in providing essential services for the most vulnerable members of our community.”

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On Monday, Ontario declared a provincial state of emergency and made an initial investment of over $300 million to support immediate measures to protect seniors, the most vulnerable and our front line health care professionals.

“We thank MPP Piccini for his leadership in bringing community partners together to develop this unique solution to a local challenge,” stated Northumberland County warden Bob Sanderson who is also mayor of Port Hope. We also thank the staff of Transition House, along with the KPR District School Board, the HKPR District Health Unit, the Cobourg Fire and Cobourg Police departments, and others for their collaboration in ensuring the ongoing provision of safe and effective shelter services for those experiencing homelessness in Northumberland.

“In this time of uncertainty, residents can be assured that public organizations and community partners continue to work cooperatively together to address local needs, and ensure a robust response against the spread of COVID-19 in our community.”

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More to come.