Pop-up COVID-19 testing sites will begin operating later this week as part of a pilot project aimed at improving access to testing for specific Kitchener communities by offering it at their local community centres.

The pilot is a collaborative effort advocated for by a number of partner organizations, including the African Caribbean and Black Network of Waterloo Region (ACB), the African Family Revival Organization (AFRO) and the AIDS Committee of Cambridge, Kitchener, Waterloo and Area (ACCKWA), and supported by St. Mary’s General Hospital, Region of Waterloo Public Health, and the City of Kitchener.

Six clinic dates at two centres are currently planned. If successful, additional dates may be added at those centres and to other community centres. Current dates and locations are:

Serving residents of the Vanier/Rockway neighbourhood

  • Kingsdale Community Center
  • 72 Wilson Ave., Kitchener
  • February 11, 18 and 25, 2 to 5 p.m.

Serving residents of the Highland West and Victoria Hills neighbourhoods

  • Victoria Hills Community Centre
  • 10 Chopin Dr., Kitchener
  • February 16, 23 and March 2, 4 to 7 p.m.

Ruth Cameron, ACCKWA’s Executive Director agrees. “Advocates have ensured that services are brought to the communities that have been disadvantaged most overall in the COVID response to date. When we ensure that the communities with the highest rates of COVID are supported in convenient, accessible ways, we have opportunities to bring them other necessary supports as well.”Testing will be offered on a walk-in basis to residents of the neighbourhoods with COVID-19 symptoms, and to those who may have high-risk contact with those who have symptoms, such as sharing a household. Consistent with all testing sites, those seeking testing must comply with all public health measures and municipal bylaws, which includes wearing a face covering and maintaining physical distancing. An Ontario Health Card is not required for testing.

“Proactive leadership from those close to these communities has helped design a model intended to be as locally accessible as possible,” said Lee Fairclough, St. Mary’s President. “By working closely with community leaders, we look forward to learning through this pilot what works best for their residents so we can adjust the model where needed.”

Region of Waterloo Public Health identified high priority neighbourhoods and has been working with system testing partners to establish a means for pop-up style testing in order to increase access in local communities.

“Local data for Waterloo Region demonstrates that COVID-19 has a greater impact on residents who are Black, racialized and those living with low income,” said Dr. Hsiu-Li Wang, Region of Waterloo Public Health’s Medical Officer of Health. “We are grateful to our partners who have utilized this data and worked with community leaders to make testing accessible in priority neighbourhoods. This has truly been a community partnership approach.” 

At the testing sites, the hospitals are providing physicians and nurses with the medical and infection control expertise, personal protective equipment and supplies for testing. Region of Waterloo Public Health will provide COVID-19 case management follow up with those who test positive and any close contacts. The City of Kitchener is providing the space and testing will be promoted in several languages on electronic signs on the properties. Leaders close to the communities informed the design and approach.

“The City of Kitchener is pleased to make our community centres available as convenient testing sites in some of the neighbourhoods most impacted by COVID-19,” said Mayor Berry Vrbanovic. “When municipal and health system partners collaborate with community organizations like the ACB Network and AFRO, we all serve Kitchener residents better.”


Anne Kelly
St. Mary’s General Hospital 

Kerri Hutchinson
Region of Waterloo Public Health

Bethany Rowland
City of Kitchener