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'It's insulting': Advocates, vulnerable population, denounce decentralization in Moncton, N.B.

The Humanity Project on St. George Street in downtown Moncton, N.B. (Derek Haggett/CTV) The Humanity Project on St. George Street in downtown Moncton, N.B. (Derek Haggett/CTV)
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Trevor Goodwin has been helping Moncton, N.B.’s, vulnerable population for almost his entire adult life.

The senior director of outreach services at the YMCA of Greater Moncton doesn't think the idea of decentralizing services for the homeless from the heart of the city to an industrial park is fair.

“It's punishing them really, saying, 'Well, you're homeless. You don't deserve to have a sense of community. You don't deserve to be in our downtown,’” said Goodwin.

Last week, downtown business owner Thierry Le Bouthillier told CTV News he's been a victim of crime numerous times over the years.

“The downtown core is our livelihood, it's the heartbeat of our city,” said Le Bouthillier on Friday. “We need to remove these services right in our downtown and to relocate them into a more appropriate area.”

He and other business owners believe the city would be better off if homeless services were located away from the downtown in an industrial zone.

That doesn’t make sense to Goodwin who said services like soup kitchens, shelters, churches, the YMCA and other services are all ingrained in the downtown.

While he’s open to any suggestions or ideas about what to do with the city’s homelessness crisis, those ideas need to be well thought out.

“I truly don’t feel that trying to decentralize a population from an environment that they’re so heavily ingrained in and a part of is, not only is it best practice, but it doesn’t have the interests of everyone at heart,” said Goodwin. “It seems to be coming from more of a business standpoint. Individuals looking out for themselves.”

Goodwin believes if the vulnerable population is moved away from downtown, they’ll just simply return when they want.

Mickey Maguire is currently staying at one of the city's four homeless shelters, but he hopes to be in an affordable housing unit in a week or so.

He vehemently disagrees with the idea of decentralization and doesn’t support the idea of the Moncton businessman in any way.

“It's insulting, degrading, dehumanizing -- prejudice beyond anything. I would like them to personally have nothing for just one week. Be put out in the streets, in the elements, whether it's winter or not, with nothing,” said Maguire.

Debby Warren, the executive director of ensemble, a drug overdose prevention site, says drug users will come back to the downtown core even if the services are elsewhere.

“I understand people don’t want to see it, don’t want it to exist, but it does,” said Warren.

Warren doesn’t think anything would change if services were moved to an industrial park.

“You’ll still have addictions disorders without treatment, without adequate accommodations. They’ll still need to find a source for their unsafe supply. So they still will come back,” said Warren.

“Sweeping it under the carpet, so to speak, by moving us to an industrial park won't work. This is their community too. And I know they say we want to take back our community, but it's a collective community.”

Warren suggests if any downtown business owners are dealing with reoccurring crime or drug use on their premises they should advocate toward the provincial government and not Moncton City Hall.

“City hall is doing their best and they hear it and they feel it. We all feel it,” she said.

CTV News reached out to the City of Moncton for comment on Monday, but no one was available.

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