Kingston, Ont. sleeping cabins move from Portsmouth Olympic Harbour to Centre 70 Arena

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Sleeping cabins move from Portsmouth Olympic Harbour to Centre 70 Arena
WATCH: The sleeping cabins pilot project location has been moved to the Centre 70 Arena for the summer months – May 18, 2022

Kingston city council voted to officially approve the moving of the sleeping cabins from Portsmouth Olympic Harbour to the Centre 70 Arena.

The 10 cabins were moved on Wednesday a few kilometres down the road to their new location.

“I’m excited — we’re excited to meet new neighbours,” says Chrystal Wilson, executive director of Our Livable Solutions, who operate the sleeping cabins.

“We’ll miss our winter neighbours for sure. It’s a lot of work in a short period of time, but we’re really thankful for the support we’re getting from the City of Kingston to move quickly.”

The cabins are being moved so boaters can use the facilities during the summer at the harbour.

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While the cabins are being transported, their residents are being put up in a local hotel at a cost of roughly $15,000.

The Centre 70 Arena was chosen as the new site since it has facilities for the residents to use, and is close to public transit.

“We have similar facilities to what we have here, just a few more bathrooms and a few more showers,” says Wilson.

“Also an icepad to rollerblade or play floor hockey on. In terms of a kitchen, bathroom and showers, we’ll have all of those facilities.”

The cabins have been praised widely as a success during its pilot winter season.

But they are not a long-term solution.

The cabins provide good, short-term relief for a small portion of the unhoused population, but there are many other people suffering from homelessness that don’t get the chance to use the cabins.

“We’ve got a big issue with affordable housing, with housing our unhoused people,” said Coun. Wayne Hill in Tuesday night’s council meeting.

Wilson echoes Hill’s statement, saying housing is the long-term solution.

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“Our biggest issue is finding housing — attainable housing,” she says.

“It’s still a big challenge. If someone is on [Ontario Disability Support Program] or [Ontario Works], $497 won’t even get you a room anymore.”

Kingston city council agreed to keep the cabins at Centre 70 for the summer and into the fall.

In mid-October, the cabins will be moved back to Portsmouth Olympic Harbour for the winter, providing another year of security for its 10 residents.

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