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Whitney Pier, N.S., residents fear proposed Pallet shelter village could negatively impact their neighborhood

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Some people are calling for public consultation on the proposed location for a Pallet shelter village in Whitney Pier, N.S.

The shelters, 30 in total, have not arrived yet. The plan is to put the Pallet village in what used to be the Sydney steel plant parking lot.

“The concerns are the atmosphere in the community. They don’t want that to change. The way of life, they don’t want that to change. The community is very welcoming in regards to this Pallet village, but they don’t want their lives to be disrupted,” says Lorne Green, a Cape Breton Regional Municipality councillor.

Already affecting residents

Green says the proposed project is already having an effect on residents before it even arrives.

“I got an email just yesterday. There is a home on Henry Street that had a pending offer and it’s been withdrawn, and the individual indicated to me it’s because of what’s going to take place here,” says Green.

NDP MLA for the area Kendra Coombs says she’s been hearing concerns from residents too, but says housing is needed for those most vulnerable.

“For 30 (or so) people, this means they’ll get a safe, warm place to sleep, so that is good. We need that,” says Coombs.

But Coombs says community consultation should’ve taken place before a decision was made on the location and says the province is looking at holding a meeting soon in Whitney Pier, N.S.

“The Department of Community Services, as well as the service providers can provide answers and if there’s any concerns, we can look to mitigate those before they become problems,” says Coombs.

The coordinator of housing for New Dawn Enterprises, Alyce MacLean, says homelessness is a big problem in the Cape Breton Regional Municipality with 30 to 50 people sleeping outdoors on any given night.

The temporary housing will be available year-round to those most in need.

“The site will be staffed 24/7. There will be shared laundry facilities and shared washrooms on site for the individuals who will live there,” says MacLean.

In total, the province has purchased 200 units from pallet that will be placed in different communities across the province.

Other Maritime shelter sites

Another Maritime community recently voiced their concerns about shelters for homeless people in their neighbourhood.

In an invitation-only meeting on Thursday night, some St. Stephen, N.B., residents voiced their concerns about having a shelter village located near their businesses and homes on Happy Valley Road. Minister Kathy Bockus attended the meeting and told residents the village plans would be “on pause.” She did not clarify what that means.

However, the location of 24 Happy Valley Road was supposedly finalized on Tuesday, according to a news release from the Government of New Brunswick.

The Government of Nova Scotia announced they would set up a Pallet village in Lower Sackville in late January at the earliest.

The City of Saint John, N.B., also said they would accelerate their plan to create monitored encampment sites after a man died from injuries suffered in an encampment fire.

Residents in Whitney Pier, N.S., have organized their own community meeting, related to the proposed Pallet village location, as they wait for a meeting with government officials. The meeting will be held Tuesday evening at 7 p.m. at the Polish Village Hall.

For more Nova Scotia news visit our dedicated provincial page.

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