CORCAN builds a COVID-19 self-isolation trailer for the homeless

The pandemic has created unique opportunities for CORCAN to explore new partnerships and innovative designs through its employment program. One such opportunity presented itself in the spring of 2021, when CORCAN partnered with local company Bel-Con Design-Builders to design and construct a COVID-19 self-isolation trailer to accommodate vulnerable and homeless community members in downtown Belleville.

Preventing and containing an outbreak during the pandemic presented significant challenges for homeless shelters, such as staff safety and training, as well as the protection of vulnerable populations. People experiencing homelessness with nowhere to go had a particularly difficult time navigating the pandemic, considering that public health guidelines advised people to stay home and self-isolate when they were symptomatic or tested positive for COVID-19.

After learning about CORCAN’s Employment and Employability Program, Architectural Designer Brian Nichol, of Bel-Con Design-Builders, approached Daniel MacLeod, Acting Operations Manager, Construction, CORCAN for the Ontario Region. Brian engaged CORCAN’s help to design and construct a self-isolation trailer as a client project through the CORCAN offender employment program.

“Bel-Con came to us with the idea that they wanted a COVID building that they could utilize at Belleville’s Grace Inn homeless shelter,” said Daniel, who oversaw the project.

Hastings County asked Belleville’s Grace Inn to host the trailer, following the closure of Belleville’s only COVID-19 self-isolation centre. Grace Inn is a not-for-profit, 21-bed emergency shelter for adults, whose mission is to provide a safe, dignified, and hospitable environment, with opportunities for mentorship and community. Grace Inn first opened its doors in December 2019, just before the COVID-19 pandemic hit.

"The self-isolation centre closure created a huge and very dire need to accommodate homeless individuals who are, or could be, sick with COVID, and who have no home to rest or take refuge,” explained Michelle Stephens, a board member for Grace Inn.

Long mobile home-style trailer with steps to front door

The completed isolation trailer built by offenders involved in the CORCAN employment program at Collins Bay Institution, in partnership with Bel-Con Design-Builders

The Government of Canada announced COVID-19 relief funding to help communities address the impacts of the COVID-19 outbreaks among people experiencing or at risk of homelessness, and to provide additional support to the homeless-serving sector during this period. The Community Advisory Board, the entity responsible for making funding recommendations, approved funding to support Grace Inn Shelter in bolstering their operations during the pandemic.

Five offenders participating in the CORCAN employment program at Collins Bay Institution, near Kingston, constructed the trailer under the supervision of CORCAN instructors. The 720 square foot trailer contains a common area, two bathrooms, a shower, six beds with privacy curtains, and lockers. Most of the interior fit up, including furnishings and linens, were also produced through CORCAN’s on-the-job training program.

“The offenders all bought into it, and they were all excited to work on it. And our staff were excited to be part of the project,” said Daniel.

The completed trailer arrived on site at Grace Inn in Belleville in late January. Following architectural and structural sign-off by Bel-Con and inspections by the City of Belleville, the trailer opened its doors on February 11.

Room with lockers and bed

Each bedroom contains lockers to keep belongings safely stored. 

“A big thank you to CORCAN for their invaluable support and assistance throughout this process, and for supplying Belleville with this beautiful, practical, comfortable and much-needed resource for our community,” said Michelle.

Daniel also extended a thank you to Bel-Con Design-Builders who, along with other Belleville area contractors, worked on the project pro bono and donated their services to Grace Inn. “Providing a place for individuals to be able to safely seek shelter during times of illness in a way that provides the physical distancing and facilities to ensure that the rest of the residents remain healthy is an imperative part of all illness containment,” said Hastings County Warden Rick Phillips. “We are grateful for the work of CORCAN in building the trailer, and to Bel-Con engineering for managing the project. Grace Inn residents will be served well by this important resource.”

Hallway with bedrooms

The six bedrooms have curtains to allow for privacy.

CORCAN is proud to be a part of this collaborative and meaningful community initiative.

CORCAN is a special operating agency within CSC that is responsible for the offender Employment and Employability Program. For more information about CORCAN and the various programs and services provided to offenders to support their reintegration:

You can also find specific information about CORCAN’s various products and services at:

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