Volunteers pause for a photo in the soon-to-be relocated dining room of the St. Vincent Kitchen in downtown Oshawa.St. Vincent Kitchen, a long-time fixture at the corner of King and Albert street in downtown Oshawa, has been the go-to spot for many residents of the neighborhood looking for a place of camaraderie and a hot meal. The service is largely staffed by volunteers from different areas of the region who offer a helping hand. However, a proposal to relocate those helping hands and the kitchen they work in has some in the community concerned about the plan.
Frank Lowe, acting president of Durham Outlook for the Needy, explains that the relocation is designed to create a wheelchair-accessible location. The dining service is currently located in the basement of the building accompanied by precipitous stairs, but a 2008 Oshawa bylaw prohibits soup kitchens from setting up shop in the downtown area. That means the charity must look outside the city centre’s boundaries for a new home.
The current plan is to move to a spacious property at the corner of Hemlock street and Celina with hopes of building a 6,500-square-foot kitchen, office area and thrift store. However, some residents and local businesses are not happy with the plan.
The Dairy Queen, located beside the proposed location, recently put a sign on its doors opposing to the relocation because they fear their business will suffer if soup kitchen patrons linger on their patio. Some parents are also concerned with the decision to move because of the elementary schools nearby. “They’re going to be lining up when the children are going to be walking home from school,” said one resident.
Even some users of the soup kitchen are unhappy. “I normally come here on Mondays because I live so close to the soup kitchen and it makes it so easy for me to come in, eat, have a talk with my friends and leave. If they move it’ll suck for me” said one patron.
For now though, the relocation is still scheduled to be completed by the end of this year.