Cease occupancy order removed at Open Arms, shelter still out of building

Jennifer Vardy Little
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Open Arms

A miscommunication between Open Arms and a Kings County building inspector that resulted in a cease occupation order being suddenly posted at the downtown Kentville charity has been resolved, says Pastor John Andrew.

Earlier this week, Andrew accused Kings County of demonstrating a “complete disregard” for the people served by the Kentville ministry by issuing the order for the charity to vacate its facility.

On July 21, an order, signed by Kings County’s building inspector, was posted on the door of Open Arms. It called for the public to “take notice that all persons are hereby to immediately cease occupancy.” 

The posted order came as a complete surprise to Andrew, who co-ordinates the charity. Open Arms helps those who find themselves without housing or are hungry or lonely by assisting with securing emergency shelter and necessities of life, as well as providing access to health and social services, assessment and training and employment assistance.

“Nothing of this was mentioned when the same inspector visited our building on Monday,” explained Andrew, who subsequently contacted Kings County Warden Diana Brothers and Coun. Emma Van Rooyen to seek clarification on the order. Both, he reports, responded favourably to his concerns.

 “We count on growing support in the community and this notice gave a bad impression. It wasn’t acceptable,” added Andrew who insists a call, and not a posted order to cease occupancy during renovations, would have sufficed.

“The notice was unnecessary and created undo anxiety and confusion for participants and for the community at large, and we are happy to have it dealt with,” he said after the notice was removed.

He still isn’t entirely sure if the posting of the notice was instigated by the Town of Kentville, or the county. Although Open Arms is located on Cornwallis Street in Kentville, the town contracts out building inspection services to the County of Kings.

He pointed out, however, Open Arms’ relationship with the town has become “increasingly favourable.”

“At the end of the day we just want to move forward and we can now do that.”

In the immediate future, St. Joseph’s Catholic Church has offered space for Open Arms to use three mornings a week for the remainder of the summer. Andrew hopes the renovations will get underway in the near future.

Organizations: Open Arms, Kentville ministry, Catholic Church

Geographic location: Kings, Kentville, Cornwallis Street

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