Dear Parents & Local Community,
At this point many of you will have heard about the proposal to move the "A Better Tent City" (ABTC) currently located in Kitchener, to the farm lot beside Woodland that is owned by the Catholic Church Diocese. Some of you have expressed concerns about this development so close to the school. We want to thank you for your input and for the many people, neighbours included, that have been providing feedback.
I have been in communication with Father Toby Collins from St. Mary's Church and have great admiration for the work they are doing by providing homes for marginalized people in our community. Significant work and planning has gone into dealing with the challenges presented by homelessness. As followers of Christ who are called to "act justly, love mercy, and walk humbly with our God", the mission of ABTC aligns with our desire to extend care to all image bearers of God.
Having said that, I do not want our compassion to blind us to what is best for the ABTC residents or for the Woodland community. To that end I have communicated two significant questions that we have with the current proposal to Father Collins.
First, I wonder if the location of the proposed community makes any sense when there is such limited access to social services, employment opportunities, transportation, banks and stores. Second, I asked them what consideration they have given to the safety and security of the young people attending Woodland Christian High School.
Our board of directors will be meeting with a delegation from ABTC on June 8 to listen to their proposal and determine how we will respond. Please pray for wisdom and discernment for the board as they engage in conversation and deliberation. Also, please pray for the residents of ABTC as they will experience significant displacement over the next few weeks with moving to a temporary or permanent location somewhere in our region.
John Van Pelt
Note: Communication with our school community will take place through normal communication protocols (email and student management system EDSBY), social media will not be used as a primary source of information to our school community.