City of Moncton to open emergency shelter for unhoused people
The City of Moncton will be opening an emergency cold shelter for the city's homeless population next month.
Deputy Mayor Bryan Butler said council has agreed to use the Moncton Lions Community Centre located on St. George Street. The decision was made during a committee of the whole meeting Monday afternoon.
The city owns the building, which is located downtown near Vaughan Harvey Boulevard.
"We put out feelers for people that had buildings, but we didn't get any feedback so we had to use our own," said Butler.
There will be between 80 and 100 beds at the community shelter depending on how many are allowed in the building.
Butler said the shelter will be run by the province.
There's also the possibility of another shelter opening up outside the city.
"Riverview and Dieppe have stated they would like to come onboard and help. So we have to see if they have any buildings in their area also," said Butler.
The shelter at the community centre is tentatively slated to open in mid-December.
"The easiest thing is to open it up, the hardest part is to get staffing,” said Butler. "That’s the big issue right now and we're working on that.”
The House of Nazareth and Harvest House, the city's two other shelters, are at maximum capacity.
While members of Moncton’s City Council discussed the new homeless shelter Monday afternoon, just outside city hall, a man used the nativity scene as a place to find shelter. That's only a few feet from a public bathroom where a man was found dead one week ago.
The Province of New Brunswick says it’s intent on doing something about the homeless situation in Moncton, but what that is, still isn't clear.
There are over 550 people living on Moncton's streets right now and roughly 160 more in shelters.
Father Chris VanBuskirk of St. George’s Anglican Church has been keeping his doors open at night so those who don’t have a shelter bed do have a place to stay.
“Well, there's a lot going on right now. We've been open every night this past week except for Tuesday night. And we've only been able to do that with the help of God and the help of volunteers,” he said.
Father VanBuskirk said he’s never seen the homeless situation in Moncton this dire.
Rebecca Howland, a spokesperson for the Department of Social Development, told CTV News members of various provincial departments will take an in-depth look at the challenges, current and future, facing the homeless in the Greater Moncton area.
“They will be speaking to those on the frontlines and it’s expected that the lessons learned from this gathering could be applied to other regions of the province if needed,” said Howland.
The man who died outside city hall has since been identified as 35-year-old Luke Landry, who tried unsuccessfully to find a place to stay that night.
A memorial service will be held for Landry on Wednesday afternoon at St. George’s Anglican Church.
"In the church, one of the traditional works of mercy is burying the dead,” said VanBuskirk. “It doesn't matter who that is, rich or poor. That is a responsibility that we have as we reflect on God's mercy."
Landry overdosed at Ensemble Moncton, an overdose prevention site, the afternoon of his death. He had gotten out of prison that morning.
Ensemble’s executive director told CTV News last week her staff did all they could to find him a place to stay while she worked the phones.
“The staff stayed a good hour and a half beyond closing as I'm trying to get responses back from my queries. And he left walking to one of the shelters hoping, even though they said they didn't have room or couldn't take him, that there would be room when they got there. But obviously, there was no room in the inn,” said Warren.
Warren said Landry’s overdose incident on Nov. 21 was very challenging for her staff and first responders.
“My staff were concerned, they contacted me and asked if we could find a place [for Landry to stay]. So my job is to go through the system. I contacted the shelters, there was no room in the inn. There was no room in the front entranceways. It didn’t meet the criteria or protocol for another location. I called social assistance's emergency number, was told there was new protocol recently made, that they were not able to provide for emergency hotel rooms,” she said.
Warren said people need to see drug users living on the streets as individuals that need help.
"People look at them and define them because they use substances or drugs. But that doesn't define them. We ask them to look beyond the substance and look at them as individuals. Somebody loves them, they're dear to somebody," said Warren.
Landry's family will hold a celebration of life for him in Cape Breton next summer.
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