Neighbours of Kingston, Ont. Integrated Care Hub raise safety concerns

Click to play video: 'Neighbours of the Integrated Care Hub say they have health and safety concerns'
Neighbours of the Integrated Care Hub say they have health and safety concerns
WATCH: Since the city's Integrated Care Hub received funds to continue operations for two years, neighbours want safety concerns addressed. – Mar 23, 2022

The Integrated Care Hub in Kingston, Ont., will stay open for at least another two years after being saved by recent funding from the province, but not everyone is happy.

While most agree the centre is doing important work on issues surrounding homelessness and drug overdoses, neighbours of the hub say the centre also creates problems.

Area residents and the district councillor say there are spillover “health and safety” problems that need to be addressed.

“This is not NIMBYism, this is real and these are real problems,” said Kingston city councillor Rob Hutchison, referring to the term which means not-in-my-backyard.

Read more: Supporters rally to save Kingston’s Integrated Care Hub

Since 2020 the ICH has prevented 600 drug poisonings from becoming fatalities and kept people out of hospital while also giving the unhoused population access to a variety of services.

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Important work says Hutchison, but he says the surrounding neighbourhood has seen an increase in crime.

Click to play video: 'Kingston’s mayor says steps are being taken to address resident concerns living near the Integrated Care Hub'
Kingston’s mayor says steps are being taken to address resident concerns living near the Integrated Care Hub

“Weapon-related things, trespassing, theft, assault, fires – the list is very long,” said Hutchison.

Photos were submitted to council from a neighbour of the hub that shows people trespassing on their front porch as well as in their backyard.

Hutchison says many locals have invested in security cameras, locks and signs for their property adding there isn’t a quick fix for this complicated issue.

“We need a lot more investment from senior governments, here and across Canada for that matter, housing at all levels, in order to really deal with this,” he added.

Read more: Kingston’s Integrated Care Hub faces political review over its effectiveness, security

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The Executive Director of HIV/Aids Regional Services, known as HARS, that oversees the hub said there is a lot of empathy from community partners for the neighbourhood.

“The challenges pre-date the ICH, certainly they have intensified there’s no question, but so has the drug poisoning crisis,” said Gilles Charette.

Charette said with concrete funding now secured, the Integrated Care Hub is looking to formalize and create new plans for how and even where they deliver some of their services and a part of that will include community outreach.

“We are looking for more meaningful ways to engage the people in the neighbourhood as well as our community partners in doing some solutions-based work that talks about identifying some of the challenges and how do we come together to work on some of those,” said Charette.

Hutchison said one solution could be to divide the location of some of the services offered at the ICH to decrease the density of those coming and going.

Over the next few months, the ICH will be reviewing policies and programming while looking to partners like the city, bylaw, police and other outreach initiatives to create community solutions.

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