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Moncton city councillor says decentralization of homeless services isn't the answer


A Moncton city councillor has shared his thoughts on decentralizing services for the homeless in the downtown core.

A group of downtown business owners have made an appeal to the city to have shelters, soup kitchens, drug overdose prevention sites and other services moved from the centre of the city to an industrial park.

Councillor Charles Léger sympathizes with anyone who’s been a victim of break-ins, vandalism or drug use on their property, but doesn’t think moving services out of an urban area is the answer.

“Completely decentralizing in the downtown I don't think is feasible, but I do believe we need to offer services in other areas of the city,” said Léger. “Right now, for most people who find themselves un-housed, the services are really only available in the downtown. So I understand it [the frustration] and I think we have to look at some other options.”

Léger said it's important to remember the province - and not the city - is responsible for most of the services available to the homeless population in the downtown area.

“I see it and I understand with individuals every day. I can understand their frustration,” said Léger. “The difficulty for the city is we do not have all of the authority with the situations we’re seeing on our streets. The municipality is not responsible for mental health services. We’re not responsible for a lot of the things that are underlying factors of homelessness.”

Earlier this week, CTV News spoke to Trevor Goodwin, the senior director of outreach services at the Greater Moncton YMCA, about the current state of homelessness in the city.

“We’ve had a successful winter. We’ve had space for individuals,” said Goodwin on Monday. “But we also can’t deny the inflow is still coming into homelessness from a municipal, provincial, national level where the cost of living is just going up. So more and more individuals are struggling to afford food, afford housing, afford all these other things."

Goodwin did say there is a lot of positive work going on between the agencies that serve the vulnerable population, the Department of Social Development and the City of Moncton.

“But we always have to be weary of all those things on the outside that are starting to effect the amount of individuals that are experiencing homelessness,” said Goodwin.

Léger doesn’t see a lot of change in the situation.

“I believe people are falling into homelessness every day. Although there are some positive trends where more and more people are being housed, I think what we are looking forward to is more housing being made available,” said Léger.

Two of the city’s temporary cold shelters are scheduled to cease operations in April. Top Stories

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