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Kitchener resident says neighbourhood not consulted about new emergency shelter

The King Street shelter at the former Kitchener Schwaben Club opens on Thursday
The former site of the Kitchener Schwaben Club - located at 1668 King Street East.

A new emergency shelter is set to open Thursday night for those experiencing homelessness in the Region of Waterloo, but a neighbourhood resident says she didn't get enough heads up.

The shelter is located at the former site of the Kitchener Schwaben Club on King Street East. 

Barbara Maslanko lives in the neighbourhood and said regional staff were handing out notices about the shelter this week—days in advance of the opening.

"It's wrong when you don't give people who reside and have families in this area [a chance to respond]. In my area, there's like a thousand homes, and there's a lot of young families with new babies, and we have a large park by us," she said.

She said she was informed the region had been working in consultation with the Waterloo Region District School Board, but alleges the principal of Eastwood C.I. had no idea the shelter would open until Thursday. 

Maslanko echoes the concern that was raised about the previous temporary shelter at the former Edith MacIntosh Child Care Centre.

Some in the neighbourhood had expressed that the previous temporary location was too close to Cameron Heights Collegiate Institute.

Now, residents are worried about the proximity of the new shelter to another high school—Eastwood Collegiate Institute.

"...incidents of needles being dropped, the homeless people hanging around young people, and they were concerned for the safety of the students at Cameron Heights Collegiate. We're wondering why the region of Waterloo doesn't value the safety of Eastwood Collegiate students," Maslanko questioned.

Maslanko argued the region does require more temporary housing, but should also take time to go through a process to find permanent housing.

"...and when they set up temporary housing, to look at the area they're setting it up. Don't put it within 100 yards of a high school," Maslanko said.

CityNews 570 has reached out to the region for comment.

Peter Sweeney, the commissioner of community services has said the region wanted to move fast to ensure there wasn't a gap in service. 

The King Street shelter will provide services for up to 70 people of all gender identities, couples, and pets. 

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