Back in fall of 2020, the City of Sault Ste. Marie purchased 89 Hudson street for $350,000 with no real plans for the property.
At the time, Mayor Christian Provenzano took responsibility for pursuing the purchase.
“Any questions as to kind of the motivation or what staff’s plans are, you know, probably should be directed to me because it wasn’t really something that staff was motivated by or had any plans for,” said Provezano at the meeting. “It was an opportunity that came to City Council, to buy a piece of property and remove the zoning on that piece of property. So for the next 50 years, when you drive over a bridge, the first thing that you see is not a strip bar.”
Now, 10 months down the road, the property still has no plans that have been made public, but citizens and organizations alike have shared, over the last 6 months, multiple ideas with this reporter.
The first one that gets a lot of endorsement from multiple people that we have spoken with includes putting a multi-use social services-type building on the property. In a general conversation with the members of Addictions and Mental Health Advocates at a recent meeting, what could be housed on the site and what could be offered there, was brought up.
“Weekly hours, with visits from workers from welfare, ODSP, tax/budget preparation, Algoma Public Health, Harm Reduction workers, and advocates like us,” said Donna DeSimon, founding member for AAMHA.
A small police station, rotating doctor/dental office, social workers, methadone treatment clinic and a job search centre were all ideas endorsed by the group.
A second idea brought forward by some homeless individuals as well as other community members is a “mini-home camp” aimed at putting a roof over the heads of those who lack consistent and sustainable shelter.
SaultOnline has learned that Seattle, Denver and Los Angeles are just a few of the cities which have invested this idea as a proactive towards combating homelessness.
In a story written by Shauna Sowersby for thetyee.com, Camp Second Chance Co-Founder, Eric Davis, explains what it was like for him to move into his mini-home after living in a tent city.
“You feel like you’ve got your own home,” said Davis in the interview with thetyee.com. “There’s no leaves, there’s no wind blowing. The tent isn’t about to crush you from the snow weight or the rain soaking up the tent walls. It gives you that sense of dignity again. You know God didn’t forget about you.”
They used donated materials and public land to build a small community of 24 tiny homes, which has now expanded to 50 in west Seattle. The homes lock, have heat and provide a sense of worth for the individuals who would otherwise be homeless.
The City of Sault Ste. Marie estimates its homeless numbers to be between 50-100 people. However, in speaking with multiple organizations on the ground, the number may be up to 10 times higher than that. They count the multiple people who find shelter in abandoned buildings and drug houses in their numbers.
Many organizations are working different angles and have multiple locations in mind for these ideas.
89 Hudson Street sits empty right in this moment, with grass cut occasionally, and trees planted for aesthetics.
Do you have any ideas as to what could be put where a strip club once stood? As “Algoma’s friendliest city”, should we be addressing the issues facing our community or, only if they affect a broader population?
Stay with SaultOnline as we start to focus even more on potential solutions for the problems facing our community.