A Barrie hotel that had helped several local homeless people through the Salvation Army's shelter program says it is evicting people because it wants to return to its regular business.
The Hart Drive hotel operator also provided video footage to BarrieToday, which they say shows substantial damage to one of the rooms.
The local Days Inn issued a short statement in response to questions surrounding a recent BarrieToday story about the imminent eviction of people in the Salvation Army’s emergency family shelter program at the hotel near Highway 400 and Dunlop Street.
The short-term, 30-day housing program will no longer have space allocated in the Days Inn hotel as of Friday, Dec. 1.
“We had taken on Busby (Centre) and Salvation (Army clients) during the pandemic, like all the other hotels in town,” the Days Inn manager, signed only as John, said in an email to BarrieToday.
“Now it’s time to operate as a hotel again,” he added.
The manager said there were “no problems at all,” when asked on Monday if there were any issues or concerns while hosting the shelter programs in the hotel.
However, in a followup email to BarrieToday from the Days Inn on Tuesday, management walked back their earlier statement as they shared a video that shows damage to a room they say was caused by one of the people staying at the hotel through the Salvation Army's housing program.
"After watching this clip, you can probably understand why we had requested the groups to find new homing. Not to mention their original contract was only for the year, which ended back in 2021," they wrote.
The video shows garbage strewn around the room, marks on the walls, a hole in the drywall, along with a large expletive written in what appears to be ink on another wall inside the room.
Meanwhile, the agencies providing shelter are scrambling to find new accommodations for several homeless people in Barrie after the deadline to leave was set by the Days Inn hotel.
"I did offer an extension to the remaining three tenants, but it seems they’ve already found housing elsewhere," the hotel manager said on Monday.
The Salvation Army’s Barrie Bayside Mission, which works with individuals and families, said last week it is “struggling" to secure long-term housing for those affected.
"We understand the complexities of finding affordable housing in Barrie,” the Salvation Army said in an earlier statement emailed to BarrieToday by Glenn van Gulik, divisional secretary for public relations with the organization's Ontario division.
Van Gulik has said the Salvation Army was “surprised” by the hotel’s decision and is “disappointed in the amount of notice given to try and locate the families in our program.”
“We sympathize with the families in our program,” the statement added. “We will continue to work with them to secure suitable placement during this time with a long-term goal to set them on a pathway to permanent housing.”
The city is struggling to house people experiencing homelessness this year as winter creeps in.
A temporary emergency overnight shelter recently opened to Barrie’s homeless population as the region gets ready for another winter.
The north-end shelter, located at 20 Rose St., near Bayfield Street and Highway 400, will be open from 6 p.m. until 10 a.m., seven days a week, until April 30, 2024. It has space for up to 30 people this winter. During extreme weather and statutory holidays, it will remain open for people who are staying there.
The Busby Centre, a community not-for-profit organization in Barrie, serves approximately 125 to 150 individuals within a 24-hour period at their 88 Mulcaster St. location, and plans to expand its shelter operations into an adjacent building at 90 Mulcaster St.