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The former Hilton Belyea Arena in west Saint John Image: © 2021 Google

New home needed for out-of-the-cold shelter

By Brad Perry Jun 28, 2023 | 4:30 PM

Talks are underway to find a new home for the out-of-the-cold shelter in Saint John.

The former Hilton Belyea Arena on the city’s west side was used this past winter.

But councillors were informed this week that the arena will not be an option this year.

Brent McGovern, the city’s chief administrative officer, said they were told “hundreds of thousands of dollars” would need to go into the arena if it were to be reused.

“Really, the province is saying that it’s not to be reused. It’s not an option,” McGovern told councillors on Monday night.

“It does leave the question, what is the option?”

McGovern said meetings have been scheduled as officials work to find a new location for an out-of-the-cold shelter.

He said they are looking for the province to play more of a leadership role as it related to homelessness and shelter capacity.

The Human Development Council (HDC) said there were at least 182 people experiencing homelessness as of April.

Nearly four in five were considered chronically homeless, meaning they have been homeless for at least six months over the past year or 18 months over the past three years.

But the homeless population is believed to be much higher as the figures only include individuals who consent to be counted.

According to HDC, Saint John has 89 shelter beds currently and its shelter occupancy rate in April was 77 per cent.

Coun. David Hickey said he hopes solutions for the winter months can be found more quickly this year.

“My concern is that once we get into fall, we end up in a similar situation that we were in last year where there is a bit of scrambling being done to get a solution in place,” said Hickey.

Council granted permission to The Salvation Army to use the facility on Nov. 28 and it opened its doors in early December.

The capacity of the 40-bed shelter was expanded at times throughout the winter, particularly during extreme cold.


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