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A Better Tent City relocates to new site in Kitchener

Housed temporarily at a City of Kitchener site used as a snow dump, residents of A Better Tent City moved Tuesday to a new home in the city.

The new site at 49 Ardelt Ave. straddles land owned by the city and the Waterloo Region District School Board.

The group had been set up at the city’s snow storage site in an industrial area since June after it was forced to abandon its original home when that property was sold. ABTC had made a bid to relocate to a site near Breslau when the Catholic Church made land available on Spitzig Road, but that was dropped due to the lengthy planning process necessary to make the location viable.

The organization isn’t currently pursuing that option as part of its long-term plans, says a spokesman.

“We have really focused our attention more in the cities. We haven’t ruled out anything yet, but we really have put our focus elsewhere,” said Jeff Willmer of the Breslau site, noting ABTC is looking at a few long-term options, though nothing definitive at this point. “It’s probably too early to say.

“It requires some patience and persistence, but then there are some bright spots, as well. In this case, the City of Kitchener land was the piece that we originally requested, and the city agreed, but then when we realized that it was constrained by size and some underground services, then the city approached the school board, and the school board was quick to agree. That was a huge help because it really needs both pieces of land to make it work here.”

Woolwich chief administrative officer David Brenneman said his counterparts in the region’s municipalities haven’t been discussing long-term solutions for ABTC, instead focusing on the short-term issue that saw the group looking for a new site by the end of this month. He noted there have been no further talks about a Woolwich site.

Tuesday saw crews moving the huts to the new site, with work being carried out to ensure electrical hook-ups would be available to power the radiator in each unit. The second phase will be to set up the common facilities (washrooms, showers, laundry, kitchen and dining). 

“They woke up in their own homes this morning. Today, they’re being relocated, and they’ll be able to go to sleep in their own home on the new site tonight,” Willmer said Tuesday of the residents’ relocation efforts.

Residents have stuck with the organization through all of the recent changes, he added.

“All the moves have not resulted in any loss: we still have 50 residents. Again with this move, the residents seem to pretty much take it in stride.”

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