An aging women's shelter in Nova Scotia will be replaced with a new building through a federal program that will provide up to $3 million to help with construction.
The official announcement for Bryony House was made Friday by federal and provincial officials in Halifax.
The funding comes from money included in the 2016 federal budget for affordable housing to support victims of domestic violence. Nova Scotia's total share of the funding is $5.2 million.
Sharon Skaling, who chairs the Bryony House board, says the replacement is needed for a 24-bed shelter that is the province's largest.
"The house was built in the 1800s," said Skaling. "We don't have what we need now to accommodate the changing needs of the woman who are coming to us, from different cultures and different backgrounds."
'It's a fresh start'
Skaling said there is no timetable yet for construction with the home discussing details on design and location with Housing Nova Scotia.
She said under the funding rules the home would have to remain at its current size and offer the same services.
"We can add, but we can't take anything away," Skaling said. "There is lots of stuff we are still working on and it's a fresh start."
The funding allotted to Bryony House means there is about $2.2 million left to assist in the construction or renovation of other shelters and transition homes across the province.
The Nova Scotia Advisory Council on the Status of Women will assist organizations with the formal application process to access the funding. Under the rules the funding commitments through the affordable housing program must be made by March 31, 2018.
Meeting community needs
Joanne Bernard, the provincial community services minister, said starting with Bryony House, which has the highest rate of occupancy in the province, is the logical thing to do.
"The Bryony House building has been in continual decline that has proven to be near impossible to stay on top of," said Bernard. "The structure has become stressed much like many of the families who live there."
Bernard said there are further needs across the province which the provincial government hopes to address with the remaining money in the federal fund.
She said there is also money from the $700,000 federal shelter enhancement program that the province can use.
"Between those two funds we should be able to meet the needs of what's happening in the communities," Bernard said.
Meanwhile, a lawsuit over a controversial home lottery run by Bryony House last year is still before the courts.
ALPC Housing Solutions, the company that operated the lottery, sued Bryony House for allegedly failing to pay the company $374,905.50 in management fees.
In defence documents filed at the Supreme Court of Nova Scotia last year in response to the lawsuit, Bryony House alleges ALPC's "actions, mismanagement and unprofessional conduct" during the lottery led to negative press about the lottery and caused low ticket sales.
Bryony House's lawyer Dennis James told CBC News on Monday that no court dates have been set in the case and there's no talk of settling out of court.