Vacant Hamilton schools offered to City for ’emergency support’: Board

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Published December 10, 2020 at 10:26 am

Hamilton’s public school board is offering some of its unused buildings to the City of Hamilton to be used for emergency purposes as we enter the winter months and the pandemic continues.

At a Hamilton-Wentworth District School Board (HWDSB) meeting held earlier this week, a motion was put forward by trustee Maria Felix Miller “in the spirit of goodwill and collegiality in addressing shared concerns facing the Hamilton community.”

The board supported the motion and a formal letter will be sent in the coming days to members of City Council to inform them of the board’s decision.

“As Covid-19 numbers climb across the city and with winter starting, we are concerned that many of our most vulnerable will be facing the need for emergency support. Especially if we are in any lock-down situation,” said Miller in a press release.

“I hope that by reaffirming the commitment we made in the spring, we can let the City begin planning if they see the buildings as useful. This offer is also something that I hope will provide aid across the whole city as it is needed.”

Early on in the pandemic, HWDSB offered its facilities for emergency medical centres and temporary emergency shelters to the City of Hamilton.

In recent weeks, protestors outside of Hamilton City Hall have attempted to shed light on the plight of the city’s homeless population, particularly in the lead up to the long winter months.

Activists associated with the local Defund HPS movement have been calling for a significant portion of the police service’s budget to be redirected to housing initiatives and low-barrier shelters to help get people off the streets and provide more affordable options for housing.

While the HWDSB’s offer to provide the unused schools for emergency purposes is not linked to the protest, it comes on its heels and again highlights an emergency situation in the community that many residents feel City Hall has not done enough to address.

“We have several closed facilities in our possession that can easily be made available to the City for temporary or emergency facilities,” said the board’s new chair, Dawn Danko.

“As a continued partner of the City of Hamilton, and out of concern for all residents, we are more than happy to offer our facilities as needed.”

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