Tiny shelter pilot project cancelled in Hamilton


Published October 6, 2023 at 12:36 pm

tiny shelter project hamilton
(Photo: Hamilton Alliance for Tiny Shelters)

A controversial pilot project to provide tiny shelters for people struggling with homelessness won’t go ahead as planned in Hamilton.

Both the City of Hamilton and the organization spearheading the plan, Hamilton Alliance for Tiny Shelters, released statements today (Oct. 6) saying the pilot would not be going forward at this time.

The pilot project would have provided 25 insulated structures in Strachan Linear Park along Strachan Street East between James and Hughson streets north.

Hamilton city council approved the proposal in August along with an homeless encampment protocol but some community members said they weren’t properly consulted about the project location. A Sept. 11 public open house at the Bennetto Community Centre got heated and police were called.

But now Hamilton Alliance for Tiny Shelters (HATS) say their board of directors, with the total support of the leadership team, unanimously voted not to proceed with the pilot on the city-proposed Strachan Linear Park site.

“The organization felt too many of its essential site selection criteria were not being fully met, which would severely compromise the success of the Pilot to the detriment of all of its community partners,” the press release notes.

While the Strachan site addressed some of the needs of the project, the due diligence process concluded that “the investment required was too significant.”

“HATS expresses deep disappointment that it cannot move forward with a site at this
time, which had the potential to provide much-needed stability, safety, and warmth to
unhoused individuals, particularly as the winter months approach,” the press release continues.

The alliance is moving ahead in collaboration with the City of Hamilton to identify other possible sites for a pilot project hopefully for mid-2024.

In a statement, the City of Hamilton said HATS’ “generosity, citizenship and partnership has been greatly appreciated, and we support the conclusions of their due diligence process to not proceed with their pilot on the Strachan Street site.”

No alternative sites have been found at this time.

Project partners, including LIUNA, have offered support and will collaborate with HATS to identify additional potential sites.

“HATS will follow due process in engaging the community prior to selecting a future site,” they say.

The councillor for the area, Cameron Kroetsch, raised concerns for the people who may go another winter without shelter.

“I’m grateful for the due diligence done by both HATS and City staff and while I’m disappointed there will be no pilot this winter, I think this is the right decision,” Kroetsch said in a post on X, formerly Twitter.

“Many I’ve spoken to were hopeful that the HATS pilot would be set up in time for winter to help up to 25 of our neighbours survive the cold months ahead,” he added. “That remains top of mind for me and I look forward to hearing more from City staff about our plans for this winter.”

The City of Hamilton said it will be taking additional measures to meet the needs of unhoused individuals over the winter months, including a call-out for applications for overnight winter warming spaces, expansion of day time drop-in programs and expansion of hours at some recreation centres and libraries.

The city has been worked closely with HATS for nearly two years, and we will continue to do so, according to the statement from the City of Hamilton.

For more about Hamilton Alliance for Tiny Shelters see their website here.

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