Office of Councillor Jeff Leiper, Kitchissippi Ward, Ottawa | (613) 580-2485  |
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Tom Brown arena respite centre FAQ

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As I noted in my newsletter a few weeks ago, Tom Brown arena on Bayview Station Road will open next week as a respite centre for those experiencing homelessness, operating on weekdays during the day. It will operate as a place where folks can use a washroom, grab a shower and some warm food, and warm up this winter. City staff have prepared the following FAQ with respect to its operations. If you have further questions, please feel free to drop me a line and my office will ensure those are answered.


Opening of Tom Brown Respite Centre

Q. When did the McNabb Arena Respite Centre close?

A:  The McNabb Arena Respite Centre closed on Friday October 9, 2020.

Q. How many people used the McNabb Arena Respite Centre?

A: The McNabb Respite Centre received an average of 200 clients per day. Since April 24 to September 24, the following services/interventions were offered:

  • 3,057 showers
  • 1,487 restroom visits
  • 1,113 clients seeking cooling during summer heat warnings
  • 7,632 requests for food
  • 138 crisis interventions

We expect similar numbers at the Tom Brown Respite Centre especially as the weather turns colder.

Q. When will the Tom Brown Arena Respite Centre open?

A: The Tom Brown Arena will open fully as a respite centre by November 2 with projected hours of operation, Monday to Friday from 9:30 am to 4 pm. A soft launch of the respite centre starting October 27 with specific returning clients should ensure a smooth transition to full services on November 2. This soft launch will also give the opportunity for members of the Tom Brown Respite Centre community group to advise of any concerns. 

Q. Why was there a gap between the closing of the McNabb Arena Respite Centre and the opening of the Tom Brown Arena Respite Centre?

A: We've augmented community services to meet the needs of our clients as we planned for the closure of the temporary McNabb respite centre on October 9.

Shower services are available at Centre 454, Centre Espoir Sophie, St. Joe’s Women Centre and The Well.

Examples of expanded services to day programs include:  

  • Centre 454: expanded hours of service from 8 am to 3 pm and will open on Saturdays as of October 3 (adding 17 hrs/week) and Sundays as of October 18.
  • Centre 507: extended drop-in hours into early evening on Mondays and Wednesdays 1:30 pm to 6:45 pm and Sunday afternoons from 1:30 pm to 3:45 pm (adding 22.5 hrs/week) 
  • The Well: has extended their hours from 8 am to 3 pm and now offer services on Saturdays beginning October 3 (adding 17 hrs/week) 
  • Increased outreach services in Somerset West  
  • Service hours to now include Sundays and evenings for several community agencies 

The clients who had been frequenting the McNabb respite centre were informed of the closure and have started using the community services listed above. They also received fact sheets listing all the information available to them.  

We continue to assess their needs. In planning for the upcoming cold weather, which includes the opening of the Tom Brown Arena Respite Centre, we are in consultation with our City and community partners to ensure we are providing the best and most appropriate services possible. The planning includes:

  • Site planning
  • Consultation with our City and community partners
  • Identifying Health and Safety protocols
  • Building the staffing complement from current City employees
  • Ensuring proper training for staff
  • Security requirements
  • Continued collaboration with Ottawa Police Service and Ottawa Public Health

Q.  Are there programs available for those experiencing homelessness in the interim until the Tom Brown Respite Centre opens?

A: To prevent any projected service gaps with the McNabb Arena Respite Centre closing, the City is providing additional funding to four different day programs/community health and resource centres to allow community service providers to resume services safely as well as expand much needed services including showers and washroom facilities to people experiencing homelessness. Examples of the expanded services are listed above.  

Staff are actively bridging clients to community service providers through information sharing and collaboration with service providers to ensure a warm transition of clients to available services.

Q.  What services will be offered at Tom Brown Arena Respite Centre?

A: The Tom Brown Arena Respite Centre will offer numerous services to our most vulnerable residents. In addition to the access to showers and washrooms, clients will have a place to rest during the day. The centres will also provide essentials like towels, toiletries, food, clothing, crisis intervention, and referrals and links to other primary care services.

Q. Will the Tom Brown Arena Respite Centre include a supervised consumption site?

A: No, this is not a supervised consumption site. However, crisis intervention staff from partner agencies will be on site to offer supportive counselling and case management.

Q. Why was the Tom Brown Arena selected for a respite centre?

A: Similar to the McNabb Arena selection process, thoughtful consideration was given to location and physical distancing measures. The site location also allows for separate entrances and ease of traffic flow control. The site has a controllable internal infrastructure that provides for accessible use of bathrooms and shower facilities. With the announcement of new provincial restrictions to slow the spread of COVID-19, many activities were impacted including indoor team sports such as hockey, allowing for the whole building to be available.  

Q. What is the capacity of this centre and what are the expected numbers?

A: The total capacity at Tom Brown Respite Centre is 300 people maximum (using safe distancing) however we do not anticipate reaching those numbers. We are currently preparing the arena for use as a respite centre and are expecting similar numbers as seen at McNabb Arena Respite Center listed above. 

Q. Will meals be provided to those who are using the respite centre?

A: St. Luke’s Table has agreed to provide food at the Tom Brown Respite Centre and replicate the same model used at McNabb Arena. They will serve indoors as the weather is getting colder and will start providing lunches weekly from 11am – 1pm, starting November 2. The Centre will also providing take away meals outside of St. Luke’s Table lunch hours through the Parkdale Food Center through the Cooking for a Cause Program.  

Q. How will the issue of discarded needles be addressed?

A: We have confirmed the services of Needle Hunters as part of the City’s Needle Hunters Program. Other steps taken include staff performing perimeter sweeps multiple times daily as well as monitoring and coordinating disposal of sharps containers installed on site. Calls made to 311 regarding discarded needles will continue to be prioritized.

Q. How will safety concerns be addressed?

A: The City will continue to contract a security service for regular monitoring of the Respite Centre during and after operational hours. Security will be on site, inside and outside the arena, from 8:30 am to midnight on weekdays and on weekend patrols, where ongoing needs will be assessed. The City will also continue working with Ottawa Police Service to support respite centre staff, ensure their presence in the community and address resident concerns. In addition, ongoing consultation with Ottawa Public Health are taking place to ensure current regulations are being met to keep patrons, clients and employees safe in the use of this facility during the COVID-19 pandemic. The safety and well-being of residents and those using the respite centre is of utmost importance to City staff.

Q. Will there be ongoing check in opportunities for key community residents?

A: We are committed to having ongoing meetings with the Tom Brown Respite Centre community group. The expectation is that they be weekly for the first month, with a reduction in frequency afterwards if warranted. City staff will ensure to supply weekly statistics from the respite centre including number of shower and washroom visits, requests for food and crisis interventions.

Q. When will the Tom Brown Arena Respite Centre close?

A. The centre will be open until the end of the winter at which time we will assess the need and state of the COVID-19 situation

Q. Will there be any impact on ice time?

A: With the announcement of new provincial restrictions to slow the spread of COVID-19, many activities were impacted including indoor team sports such as hockey. City staff are assisting with the relocation and consolidation of limited ice time to other facilities when possible, allowing for Tom Brown Arena to be used as a respite centre.

Q. Will beds be installed once the hockey is moved out of Tom Brown?

A: Tom Brown Respite Centre is not identified as a physical distancing centre and will not have overnight stays for those using the centre. Cots will be available for use in designated areas to accommodate for daytime resting.

Q. What should residents do if they have any concerns?

A: For Tom Brown Respite Centre immediate concerns, residents may call the Respite Centre Operations mobile at 613-809-1731, Monday to Friday from 9:30 am to 4 pm. Outside of these hours, this number will be forwarded directly to 311 for response. Calls made to 311 concerning the safety of our residents will continue to be prioritized.

You can also email us at

FAQs provided by 3-1-1

Q. What should you do if you find used needles or other drug paraphernalia on the ground? 

A. You can pick-up discarded needles by following Ottawa Public Health’s safe handling instructions. If the material is in a location that is publicly accessible (such as a sidewalk or a parking lot), you may also notify the City of Ottawa by calling 3-1-1.

Q. What if I find used needles or other drug paraphernalia in my backyard?

A. To ensure the safety of our employees, the City of Ottawa cannot have its members go on private property to collect these materials. Property owners should pick-up and dispose of these by following Ottawa Public Health’s safe handling instructions.

Q. I picked up a used needle; where can I dispose of it?

A. If you have picked up a needle or other sharp paraphernalia, you may bring it to one of our Needle Drop Box locations including one installed on site at Tom Brown Arena.  

Q. How can I file a noise complaint against the respite centre at Tom Brown arena?

A. To file a noise complaint, please visit or call 3-1-1.

Q. I noticed garbage and litter on the ground near the Tom Brown Arena. Who can clean this up?

A. Please call 3-1-1 to report garbage or litter at or near the Tom Brown Arena. An agent will notify the appropriate department or agency for clean-up.

Q. What should I do if I notice loitering on private property?

 A. If you witness loitering on private property, please call Ottawa Police reporting unit by dialing 613-236-1222, extension 7300. If this is a life-threatening emergency, please call 9-1-1.

Posted October 31, 2020