Dilkens issues letter to community over criticism of temporary shelter

Windsor Mayor Drew Dilkens. April 17, 2019. Photo by Mark Brown, Blackburn News.

Windsor Mayor Drew Dilkens said he is both “surprised and disappointed” by some of the community’s response regarding an emergency homeless shelter at the Windsor International Aquatic and Training Centre (WIATC).

In an open letter on Thursday, Dilkens empathized with Windsorites who may be frustrated by the tough restrictions put in place to help slow the spread of the COVID-19 virus. Earlier this week, the Windsor Essex County Health Unit closed the Downtown Mission and Salvation Army after 115 people between the two shelters tested positive for COVID-19. As a result, the cold weather and lack of alternatives, the city transformed the WIATC into a temporary shelter.

Following the announcement, the mayor says he and other members of city council began to receive harsh criticism over the decision.

“In our position, City Council and I do not have the luxury of prioritizing aqua-fit, diving lessons, and lap swimming over the needs of Windsorites who have nowhere else to turn in winter months. Frankly, I hope you would expect nothing less from us,” Dilkens wrote.

Dilkens went on to write that other recreation centres in the Windsor-Essex region have been altered for different purposes such as the Adie Knox Herman arena being used for the June 27 Miracle, The WFCU Centre has been converted into a mass vaccination clinic, and some of Windsor’s hotels are being used as isolation and recovery centres.

Closing off his letter, Mayor Dilkens says he is looking forward to things returning to some type of normal as vaccines continue to roll out.

“Until that time, as a community, we must continue to rally around those still suffering the effects of this global pandemic and not rush to selfish and callous commentary. If nothing else, this pandemic has shown us that we truly are ‘all in this together.”

The full version of Dilkens’ letter can be found here.