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Pallet shelters expected to arrive in the Halifax area by the end of the month


The Government of Nova Scotia will set up a Pallet village for people experiencing homelessness near the end of the month at the earliest.

The province plans to have 19 single occupancy shelters at Beacon House in Lower Sackville, according to a Wednesday news release.

“The units are expected to arrive in late January,” the government wrote in the release.

However, once the shelters arrive, they have to be assembled. The province will also have to build a fence around the site before residents move in, the news release says.

The City of Halifax recently announced it plans to spend $3 million on a 50-bed temporary shelter in at the Halifax Forum complex. The city plans to operate the shelters 24/7 from Jan. 22 to Aug. 31, 2024.

The government originally announced on Oct. 11, 2023 they planned to spend $7.5 million to purchase 200 shelters for the coming winter.

In December, with no word on when the Pallet shelters would arrive, volunteers at the Halifax Grand Parade tent encampment purchased ice-fishing tents.

In late December, some people at the Halifax Grand Parade encampment received electricity, which helped people living there, some occupants said.

The Department of Community Services plans to set up more villages in the coming months:

  • 30 Pallet units on Henry Street in Sydney, with Ally Centre and New Dawn Enterprises
  • 20 Pallet units at 136 Exhibition St., Kentville, with Open Arms Resource Centre
  • an undetermined number of Pallet units at the Halifax Forum, 6210 Young St., with 902 Man Up

That leaves 131 Pallet shelters, of the original planned 200, with no concrete set-up dates or locations. But the province says they will announce those dates “once the locations have been surveyed.”

A photo of a Pallet shelter in Denver, Colorado is pictured in an undated photo. (Courtesy: Pallet)

“There will still be pallet villages this winter, and I appreciate that they are not in place as fast as people would like to see them,” says Joy Knight, executive director of employment support and income assistance for the Nova Scotia government, at a Wednesday press conference.

Liberal and NDP leaders at the conference say changes are not happening fast enough.

Nova Scotia Liberal leader Zach Churchill says there are 100 km winds blowing and some people are living in tents.

“We’ve had people die on the streets in Nova Scotia and the premier and the minister can’t even show up to give this announcement today,” Churchill says.

“Something is better than nothing, but so much more needs to be done and nothing I heard today convinces me that’s going to happen in the urgent fashion that it is required,” says Nova Scotia NDP leader Claudia Chender.

The government says people living in encampments will have move-in priority.

“Service providers and outreach workers will continue to work with people experiencing homelessness to determine which shelter option best meets their needs,” the government wrote in the news release.

The news release does not detail the selection process for Pallet shelter occupants.

Pallet will provide “operational and wraparound supports” for people living in 19 of their Pallet units, the release says.

“Solutions are often not as simple as finding someone an available apartment. There are many who need more than a home for stability. This could mean treatment for addiction, harm reduction services, mental health care or more,” said Trevor Boudreau, minister of community services.

“It is our goal to provide sheltering options that help people on the road to more permanent supportive housing options, and Pallet is another step on the path.”

The province says they will provide multiple supports to people living in the Pallet village, including:

  • mattresses and bedframes
  • running water
  • electricity
  • meals
  • transportation
  • washrooms
  • laundry facilities
  • support services to transition to permanent housing
  • support services for health and employment

At the planned Beacon House site, there are currently six micro shelters.

The incoming Pallet shelters can withstand Nova Scotia winds, but they were reinforced to withstand snow loads, according to Amy King, Pallet homes founder and CEO.

Beacon House helps people experiencing homelessness in the Lower Sackville area by providing support and services, the news release says. It also has a shelter on Metropolitan Avenue, a retail store and a food bank to support vulnerable Nova Scotians.

Jim Gunn, chair of the leadership support team at Beacon House, said the shelters will be pet friendly and that Beacon House will provide bus tickets. All they can do is make people feel welcome, he said at a Wednesday news conference.

“They can come to us if they want to, but after that, it’s up to them,” he says.

“With the continuing support of the Archdiocese of Halifax-Yarmouth and the strong community spirit of Lower Sackville, the Beacon House shelter is well prepared to add these 19 Pallet shelters to our operations and get more people out of the cold,” Gunn added in the Wednesday news release.

With files from CTV's Jonathan MacInnis.

For more Nova Scotia news visit our dedicated provincial page. Top Stories

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