[C]onsidering the increasing number of tents being set up at Centennial Gardens park and other areas in the city, Niagara Folk Arts Multicultural Centre executive director Emily Kovacs said St. Catharines and Niagara as a whole may need a different kind of emergency accommodation.

“I think what we need is something called a respite model,” said Kovacs, who spent 19 years working in Toronto’s homelessness services department prior to moving to Niagara.

“It’s not a shelter. It’s not supportive housing. It’s a low-barrier model,” she said. “In order for you to support individuals who are using opioids or they’re having active psychosis, they have a place that is safe, that is supportive and the least minimal rules so they (people in need) are not at risk of being sent out on the streets.”

Niagara, she said, does not have such a facility.