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UPD: Funding approved for improvements at centre for homeless

By Tara Clow May 22, 2024 | 1:45 PM

No timeline yet for improvements outside the Bridge 2 Home shelter on St. George Street.

Moncton City Council approved up to $150, 000 for the Administration to undertake physical improvements to the property at 473 St George Street, as outlined in the Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design report, and that this be funded from the Capital Reserve.

This comes after complaints from area businesses and residents about debris, nuisance issues and crime.

Businesses and residents have been growing more frustrated with the conditions around the centre operated by the province and the John Howard Society.

During Tuesday night’s City Council meeting, Councillor Charles Leger asked how long the work will take, “What we’re seeing occurring in and around the neighbourhood is not acceptable. As council, we’ve approved, the items that need to be done. I hope that we can maybe at the next meeting have a serious time frame in terms of getting this done.”

Leger says the Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design report was conducted as a way to improve the area, looking at things like lighting, adding cameras and other things along that line. He would like to see the report made public.

CAO Serge Doucet added that the City would be actioning those items this week, “The idea about not knowing how long it will take its delivery and putting contractors in place to actually solve some of those elements. So again, we can expect that those that the septet or the report will be actioned this week.”

The City entered into a one-year pilot project with the province and is leasing the former Lions Community Centre for the Bridge 2 Home program with the hopes of helping to get homeless people off the streets and into housing. The John Howard Society was hired as the Operator.

“They started with their Bridge 2 Home model and they’ve implemented that in both Fredericton and Saint John as well, and it’s working quite well in those other communities from what we understand, but we know that we have 52 per cent of the homeless population in the province here in Moncton. So we’ve identified to the province that we’re a little bit different here in Moncton and that we may need to reevaluate what is happening there,” General Manager of Community Services Jocelyn Cohoon told City Council members.

Mayor Dawn Arnold voted in favour of funding for improvements but stated that the province must also step up.

“This is a significant investment by the city of Moncton in our infrastructure. We hear daily from the neighbours in that area, but I believe by us stepping up like this and making an investment, our province will also. I have had some conversations with the Minister to discuss what that can look like and how the Hub can become what it is supposed to be with the proper services to have mental health, addictions, actual healthcare, nurses and a Sheriff so that it can fulfill its purposes which is ultimately to help people get the housing they need,” Arnold said.

There was one nay vote against.   Councillor Shawn Crossman, also felt we need an agreement from the province of New Brunswick first.

“We need the province of New Brunswick to step up with mental health services and addiction services to help these nonprofit groups get ahead, rather than distributing this into the neighborhood, and having our citizens and our businesses up in arms almost every day. With summer coming our tent sites are going to be numerous throughout the city,” Crossman told Moncton City Councillors.

“So until we want to get serious on this matter with the province and with the feds and make sure that the responsibility lies where it should, I cannot support this initiative at this time.”