OTTAWA -- Ottawa is opening two physical distancing and isolation centres for the city’s homeless population as part of $11.4 million in funding to protect vulnerable members of the community during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The funding from the Federal and Ontario Governments will be used to support several initiatives, including emergency sheltering needs, isolation centres and hotel rooms for people to self-isolate and physical distancing centres. 

In addition, $3 million will be allocated to non-profit community organizations to address “persistent and immediate needs.”

There are currently 860 individuals living in Ottawa's community shelter system on any given night and an estimated 90 people live on the street. 

Medical Officer of Health Doctor Vera Etches told reporters on Monday afternoon that there are six confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Ottawa's shelter system, involving four families and two individuals.

Physical distancing and isolating centres

The City of Ottawa announced a number of facilities will open for Ottawa’s vulnerable population to self-isolate during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Jim Durrell Recreation Centre on Walkley Road will become a “physical distancing space for the men’s shelter system.” The facility will open next week, with up to 140 beds available.

A 40-bed isolation centre at the Le Patro d’Ottawa Recreation Centre will open the week of April 27. The city says the centre will serve individuals who tested positive for COVID-19 or who have mild symptoms.

In partnership with Ottawa Inner City Health and the community shelter system, a 40-bed isolation and treatment centre opened last month at the Routhier Community Centre. As of Monday afternoon, there were 11 individuals using the centre.

The city has acquired 70 rooms to accommodate families with physical distancing requirements during the pandemic, and is currently looking for 50 more rooms. 

Supporting Basic Needs

The City of Ottawa is also opening up the McNabb Recreation Centre on Percy Street for Ottawa’s vulnerable population to have daytime respite.

Councillor Catherine McKenney asked the City’s Human Needs Task Force to consider opening a facility for the homeless population to shower and use the washroom facilities.

The McNabb Recreation Centre’s showers and washroom facilities will be opening this week to provide people experiencing homelessness access to showers.

Five portable washrooms have been installed in the downtown core to address immediate needs of individuals.

The Human Needs Task Force is working with day programs and community health and resource centres to re-open services on a permanent basis while respecting the physical distancing requirements.