Shelter Closure

Over the last week, the Tantallon wildfire rightly focused all of our attention. While people were being made homeless by disaster, the Province, however, was deliberately making people homeless in Downtown Dartmouth. On June 1, the Province went ahead with closing the shelter at Christ Church and the closure went every bit as badly as I and others feared. Eight people who were sheltering there took tents and sleeping bags from HRM. At least eight people who had a roof over their head on Wednesday were left to live outdoors in a tent on Thursday right before the heavy rain. Some of them took their survival kits from HRM staff in tears. Forcing people to go live outside is cruel. The affected residents are now sheltering in HRM parks and some of them went to HRM’s designated sites on Geary Street and Green Road. If you’ve noticed new tents suddenly appear in our community, this is why.

In advance of the closure, Council urged the Province to either keep the shelter open or ensure there was alternate space available. Despite the Province’s assurances, assurances that were repeated by senior Provincial staff to Sue LeBlanc on May 25, that didn’t happen. It was all empty words. To close the Dartmouth shelter without a plan to ensure that some of our most vulnerable citizens would be looked after is shameful.

I really try not to pick fights with other orders of government. It’s not an easy job being in government. I know. I really don’t know what to do here though. It’s infuriating that eight people were sent to live in HRM’s parks this week. How can we fix a problem though when there seems to be little interest on the other side of the table? The Premier says “go like hell” on healthcare, and “it’ll cost what it’ll cost” on the Tantallon fire, but when it comes to homelessness there is no urgency, little interest, and little commitment, even as the crisis on our streets gets worse. The only thing on housing that the PCs seem interested in is ensuring developer’s get fast approvals for housing that is needed, but that also won’t help anyone at the bottom of the income spectrum. The people who the Province abandoned on June 1 won’t be housed in market housing. The stark difference between what the Premier actually considers a crisis and how homelessness is being handled is striking.

So it once again falls to HRM to try and put band aids over completely broken Provincial services. Handing out tents and encouraging people to shelter at our designated sites. I’m sorry that there are more people sheltering in our parks. It’s an awful situation for everyone and, most frustratingly of all, it doesn’t have to be this way. These eight people had a roof over their head. Now they don’t. Now they live in our parks.


  1. What about the hotel they opened by the bridge. I thought that was to house and assist our homeless?

    • It is. They have 100 empty rooms up there right now. They don’t have the staff to run it in place yet. I have no idea when it will open. The Province should have rushed to get some of those rooms open or extended Christ Church to bridge the gap rather than turning the people who were using Christ Church out to the street.

  2. I thought the hotel by the bridge was to some exten, concentrating on those who would be homeless if they were discharged from health care situations?

    I also noted today that 902 ManUp, the Christ Church shelter operators seem to be opening a facility just east of Lakeland Plant World on Main Street / Route 7

  3. I don’t even recognize our province anymore.something is seriously wrong with so many things. I do believe we ate in crisis, as a province.

  4. Sam, your comment sounds insincere and it seems just another attempt to score some political points. May I suggest reaching out to Monaco Investment and see if they can allocate some rooms at the Prince Albert (Hotel) apartments?

  5. Can we increase minimum wage so folks at the bottom have a more equitable chance at making it, while also increase pay for staff who operate shelters—thus increasing the capacity in the field of shelters management/operations. It’s a step in the right direction to expedite permits for housing as this will increase overall housing supply faster, but the province also needs to incentivize the development and maintenance of shelters and supportive housing.

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