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Wednesday, May 23, 2018

Dispute Over Shelter In Owen Sound

Owen Sound | by Matt Hermiz  

Occupants resisting eviction order for Victorious Living Centre's emergency shelter.

An eviction order has been served to Victorious Living Centre's emergency shelter in Owen Sound, but a number of occupants are planning to resist.

Shelter resident Ray Botten tells Bayshore Broadcasting News the Ontario Superior Court of Justice has ordered the eviction as a result of a mortgage dispute.

The Sheriff will arrive at 9 a.m. Wednesday morning to execute the order and evict residents at 748 2nd Avenue East.

"This shelter here has housed well over 14,000 bed-stays, hundreds and hundreds of people have gone through here and continue to go through here," Botten claims. "To shut us down ... to kick out the homeless here in Canada, is absolutely a wrong thing to do."

Botten says a number of shelter residents have been sitting outside the building day and night since Sunday in protest.

"We're not going anywhere," Botten says. "Even if they found a place for us, that's not the issue, because the same night (we move somewhere else) there will be other people who will need a place."

"On behalf of those who will need help, we're not leaving," continues Botten. "We are not leaving, period."

Botten says the building at 748 2nd Avenue East has been VLC's primary location since a past shelter at 720 2nd Avenue East, originally the South End Baptist Church, was sold in 2017 with plans to convert to housing units.

Ian MacLellan moved to Owen Sound 10 years ago and has had struggles with addiction.

He says the VLC shelter has provided structure to his life while demanding responsibility, as he pays for lodging but still has funds to manage other needs such as groceries.

MacLellan says the location of VLC allows him to attend multiple fellowships, which he calls critical in allowing him to sustain his sobriety.

"I know many who have come through this shelter and if it moves, they're in trouble," MacLellan says. "I stand here willingly to fight for what's right for this place."

"Here I have a place to lay my head at night and that's one of the hardest things when you're homeless," MacLellan says. "When you're worried about where you're going to lay your head and whether it's going to be safe or not, then it's kind of hard to get on with the things a daily routine require."

Pastor Randy Kennedy continues to run VLC's emergency shelter, but was not available for comment.

The shelter provides two rooms for men and one for women, with five single beds in each room. It also has services such as washrooms, laundry, a kitchen, living space and an office.

According to a shelter information page last updated in June 2017, residents are referred to the VLC shelter by Owen Sound Police, Grey Bruce Health Services and the Family Y.
A strict 11 p.m. curfew is enforced and no alcohol or drugs are permitted.

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