The Welcoming Streets program has a successful first month in Kingston

August 10, 2023

The Welcoming Streets program has reported a successful first month in Kingston.

Welcoming Streets is a collaborative project between the Downtown Kingston Business Improvement Area (BIA) and Addiction and Mental health Services Kingston, Frontenac, Lennox, and Addington (AMHS-KFLA). The one-year pilot project is also supported by the City of Kingston and funded in part by the Ontario Homelessness Prevention Program. The aim of the program is to connect directly and provide support to individuals who are experiencing homelessness, addiction, or mental health difficulties in the downtown core. The program also saw success in both Guelph and Belleville before coming to Kingston. Now approaching the one month mark in Kingston, the one-year pilot project has hit the ground running.

The Welcoming Streets stewards, both dedicated professionals from the mental health and addiction sector, one from the Downtown Kingston BIA and one from AMHS-KFLA, have been situated downtown to engage with the community and offer support. The Street Outreach Case Manager is out every day connecting people that could use mental health and addiction support to primary care. The second steward is primarily dealing with businesses who require support. The presence and guidance of stewards is coupled with other initiatives like providing naloxone training.

Julie Lambert, one of the program managers at AMHS-KFLA and Mental Health Program Manager of the Welcoming Streets Program stated about the program so far, “It's been fantastic. The collaboration, it's just like, it was just waiting to happen and it's come together so smoothly and without really any hiccups. Even though they're from two different organizations, they're one team, there's no barriers. It just has been, it's been amazing actually. And it's really nice to see the collaboration happening. You can see connections to care.”

Marijo Ceurrier, Executive director of Downtown Kingston BIA, added to Lambert’s statement, “It feels like there was a bridge missing in various levels of communication around this particular subject. And it's like all the bridges got built at once. We have a very compassionate team of bylaw officers and police officers that work with us as well. It's better than I ever hoped for.”

With a successful start, the project will continue through its first year, keeping daily and weekly data and reporting to the municipality on a monthly basis.

Story by Christena Lawrie, CFRC News, for the Local Journalism Initiative