Region of Waterloo Announces Location of First Outdoor Shelter

Posted on Tuesday December 13, 2022

Waterloo Region – In response to the ongoing homelessness crisis, The Region of Waterloo is announcing the location of the first outdoor shelter in Waterloo Region.

This follows close collaboration with the City of Waterloo, the Township of Wilmot and The Working Centre, as partners continue to work together to find solutions for individuals experiencing unsheltered homelessness.

A portion of the Regionally-owned property at 1001 Erb’s Road will become home for up to 50 individuals experiencing unsheltered homelessness. The site is expected to begin operating in early February 2023.

The site announcement comes after an extensive search for a suitable location outside of downtown cores in consultation with municipal partners and with an Expression of Interest for sites to the general public. The site is home to the Waterloo Region Emergency Services Training and Research Centre (WRESTRC) campus, which includes Paramedic Services, Waste Management, Water Services and a training facility for municipal emergency services.

The site will be staffed 24/7, managed by The Working Centre, and will include support services and security. Services provided will include mental health and addictions supports, with a focus on connecting residents to permanent housing options.

It will include 50 individual cabins that will provide private, safer and inclusive accommodation for individuals experiencing unsheltered homelessness.

Each 107 square foot cabin will be furnished and equipped with electricity, heating and cooling. A main cabin complex will provide amenities, including running water, common space, washrooms and laundry services.

The Outdoor Shelter model is one part of the Region’s Interim Housing Solutions strategy approved by Regional Council on August 18, 2022. The strategy addresses the challenging and complex issue of unsheltered homelessness using four key tools:

  • Expanding the Transitional Housing Program;
  • Expanding the Home-Based Support Program;
  • Expanding the Emergency Shelter Program; and
  • Permitting an outdoor shelter.

The Interim Housing Solutions strategy is helping to respond to feedback the Region of Waterloo received from those experiencing homelessness. Through a survey of about 100 people experiencing homelessness across the region, most indicated they would be willing to relocate to an interim model such as an outdoor shelter.

Over 1,000 people are currently experiencing homelessness across the region, including nearly 450 people experiencing chronic homelessness.

More information about the outdoor shelter can be found on the Engage WR Outdoor Shelter webpage.



Karen Redman, Regional Chair, Region of Waterloo

“This new outdoor model is an important step in supporting individuals experiencing unsheltered homelessness. Chronic homelessness is a complex issue, but we know that a variety of tools, continued collaboration, and innovation are required. I want to thank The Working Centre, City of Waterloo and Township of Wilmot for working with us to deliver this solution.”


Jim Erb, Regional Councillor and Chair of Community and Health Services Committee:

“Listening to those with lived experience is essential for informing the plan and design of this site, and we will continue to listen throughout this process. This new interim housing model is part of the Region’s boarder plan to end chronic homelessness, which will have opportunities for public consultation in 2023.”


Dorothy McCabe, Mayor, City of Waterloo:

“The City of Waterloo understands we have an important role to play with the region and community partners to support those experiencing homelessness. As a progressive community known for innovation, we’re pleased to be the first city to partner on this new, innovative model which will help to increase capacity for affordable housing solutions in our region. We will continue to collaborate and share what we learn from this new interim model.”


Natasha Salonen, Mayor, Township of Wilmot:

“Over the past few years, we’ve seen an increase in people across the Region experiencing homelessness. The interim outdoor shelter is part of the Region’s important work to address this problem and Wilmot will support that work when and where we can to ensure that people who need shelter care can access it.”


Stephanie Mancini, The Working Centre:

“The Working Centre has been committed to developing creative community solutions to homelessness through the development of new shelter options including a dorm residence, motel rooms and an emergency shelter.  This Outdoor Shelter will become a new and important option that will provide supports and a place of rest while exploring housing options.” 




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