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Artillery Park drop-in centre opens with reduced hours

Jessica Vallentgoed screens individuals coming to tour the City’s new drop-in centre at Artillery Park on Thursday, Jul. 23, 2020. Photo by Samantha Butler-Hassan.

The City’s Integrated Care Hub at Artillery Park opened on a part-time schedule on Monday, Jul. 20, 2020. Originally announced as a 24/7 drop-in centre opening this week, the hub appears to have launched with a soft opening, from 9:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. daily, and closed for one hour at noon.

According to staff from HIV Aids Regional Services (HARS), the centre will be open the next two weeks for people to tour the space, grab something to eat and get acquainted with staff. Signage at the entrance indicates that one person can enter at a time, masked, for a 30-minute visit.

Staff working at the centre Thursday said they expect the 24-hour schedule and full roster of services to become available on Saturday, Aug. 1, 2020.

The Kingstonist originally contacted the City of Kingston to confirm whether the drop-in centre was in fact open, after community members stopped by to find it closed. The City has not immediately provided any information about the decision to delay the 24-hour operation of the facility.*

Consumption and treatment services, provided by Street Health, are reportedly waiting on provincial and federal exceptions to be able to co-locate to Artillery Park. Once approved, they will be on site daily 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. This is also anticipated to take place by Aug. 1, which is the first day after the bylaw exemption allowing people to camp at Belle Park will expire, though the City has indicated it will not move to evict residents there. It is unclear what will happen to those who remain at Belle Park once the bylaw exemption has expired.

According to HARS employees, there are currently five or six staff on site during opening hours. More staff are being trained next week in preparation for the Aug. 1 expansion of services. Once running at full capacity, the centre will also offer three daily meals, with all dinners provided by local community group Lionhearts Inc.

*Note – After publication of the article, on July 23, we received the following message from Robert Hosier, Communications Officer for the City of Kingston

“The resources at Artillery Park are being opened as they become safely available to provide as much immediate support for those who need it. We’ve had guests utilize resources every day since opening. HARS has been ramping up their staffing supports and completing the last-minute tasks required to welcome overnight guests. Individuals have been invited to come to the Centre and meet with staff, see the space and build a comfort level with the services being provided.”

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Samantha Butler-Hassan

Samantha Butler-Hassan is a staff writer and life-long Kingston resident. She is a news junkie and mom who loves reading and exploring the community. This article has been made possible with the support of the Local Journalism Initiative.

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