Almost two weeks after the new Integrated Care Hub opened its doors on Montreal Street in Kingston, Ont., neighbours are sounding the alarm.
The City of Kingston, in partnership with HARS Kingston and Street Health, moved the temporary care hub from Artillery Park to its permanent location at 661 Montreal St. on Oct. 30.
The facility has a food program, counselling, crisis support, a safe consumption site, a nurse and resting pods.
Now many residents living nearby say their safety is at risk after people have set up tents in the area and needles are scattered throughout the KP trail.
“I lock my door 24/7,” said neighbour Tammy Lunn
Lunn says she has lived in the north end for most of her life, inheriting her parent’s home. It’s an area she says has always had its issues with homelessness and crime, but it’s become worse in recent weeks.
“There are dirty needles, crack pipes and trash thrown around,” said Lunn.
It’s not only residents who are raising concerns with the opening of the care hub.
Nearby business owners say they are facing issues with theft and people sleeping near the entrance of their stores.
“If they’d like an apple, I’m glad to give them one. But don’t steal it,” said Joe Quattrocchi, the owner of Quattrocchi’s Specialty Foods.
For over 60 years, Quattrocchi’s Specialty Foods has been a staple in Kingston’s north end.
Over that time, Quattrocchi has dealt with his fair share of issues, although he says things have intensified since the Integrated Care Hub opened.
“We’ve had a lot of backpacks left where they walk in with a backpack and steal drinks or chocolate or candy,” Quattrocchi said, adding it’s forced him to spend thousands of dollars on security cameras
Next door at The Wise Stop, the owner says they are dealing with people sleeping under the overhang and on the steps each night since the hub opened.
“I’ve had to reinforce below the step, so people cant crawl underneath because they sleep underneath,” said Wayne Bierkos, a technician at The Wise Stop.
Bierko’s says his wife and co-worker has been threatened, and the amount of garbage left behind has driven customers away.
“I have mixed emotions because you feel good that they have someplace to go, but it affects my rights as a person. I shouldn’t have to put up with the encroachment,” said Bierkos.
Area Coun. Rob Hutchison said he is trying to solve his constituents’ issues, adding there needs to be an increase in garbage removal from the area, and clients of the Integrated Care Hub need to dispose of used needles properly.
Besides that, Hutchison believes the Integrated Care Hub security needs to go beyond the property line to ensure the clients aren’t causing problems for nearby businesses and neighbours.
“The security needs to be extended into the neighbourhood to some extent by the Integrated Care Hub and the City, and I told them that from the beginning,” said Hutchison.
In the meantime, Lunn hopes the issues will be solved soon, or she says she will be forced to move from her childhood home.
“I’m thinking of selling. I’m thinking of moving away out of the city because I’m not impressed at all,” said Lunn.