With the city's emergency shelter full -- and temporary housing not yet available -- a Kenora group is planning to light a sacred fire downtown, in support of the homeless.

"We all know it's getting quite cold out there, and this is a way for us to get together as a community and really talk about that issue and hopefully come up with some solutions," said Elauna Boutwell, on behalf of Kenora Moving Forward.

Members of the All Nations Health Partners were set to meet yesterday to address the situation. They've set up a lease at the former Tower Motel in Norman, while new permanent housing units are built next year.

"I hear stories of people who aren't able to be in the shelter, or the shelter and detox are full, so they end up wandering around the streets at night," Boutwell added.

The situation takes on some added urgency, after a report of a possible explosion and fire next to the former Northland Hotel yesterday morning. The site is reported to be a location where homeless people have been staying. There were no reports of injuries, and there weren't any reports of damage to the building.

The volunteers working with those on the street say many of those without homes this winter were staying in tents in the summer. An encampment off the east highway was cleared away late last week. 

Volunteers at Compassionate Kenora, who have a storefront office on Main Street, have estimated 40 to 60 people may be homeless this winter. The number has reached up to 77, on a wintry night at the end of October.

The city has lost more than 100 affordable or low-income housing units in recent years. There are also plans to building new housing in the spring.

For more information:

Matheson Street in Kenora blocked due to fire

More 'pixie dust' needed to help with housing, councilor

Homeless just wandering downtown: Compassionate Kenora

Waterview to host homeless