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Neighbourhood Works is located in the former Holy Rosary Catholic Church in St. Stephen. Image: Mark Downey

Search continues for St. Stephen warming centre location

By Brad Perry Nov 30, 2023 | 12:07 PM

There is still no warming centre for the estimated 100 people experiencing homelessness in St. Stephen.

But a group of community members says it is working to have something in place as soon as possible.

Over the last 12 months, the affordable housing crisis has continued to worsen, and the situation is even more dire for people who are unsheltered now that the cold weather is here,” the Warming Centre Working Group said in a statement.

“Winter weather increases the chances of injury and death from sleeping rough. The opening of a warming centre is the only thing that will help keep some people safe.”

Members of the working group have been meeting since August to try and find a long-term solution for those experiencing homelessness.

The group initially developed a process to evaluate potential buildings and locations that would “balance the diverse needs of our whole community.”

“After an initial review of potential buildings failed to yield any positive results, the working group began evaluating properties which might be suitable for the development of a warming centre and have the potential to expand to include housing,” said the statement.

The group identified the top three potential locations after evaluating over 20 parcels of land throughout the community and assessed them based on walkability, zoning, and financial requirements.

In mid-October, the working group said it identified a solution that would meet the needs of the warming centre, as well as the longer-term focus of providing housing, while also considering the well-being of the whole community.

“In late October, we were advised that the parcel of land we had been focused on was no longer a viable option,” said the release.

“We have been actively working with property owners to secure another parcel of land in order to have something in place as quickly as possible.”

Neighbourwood Works is already lined up to manage the centre once the land is secured, said the group. It already has job postings out for a manager and support staff.