Manitoba

Centre Culturel Franco-Manitobain pulls plug on temporary homeless shelter during COVID-19 pandemic

A Winnipeg venue that was set to offer shelter to homeless people during the COVID-19 emergency has changed its plans after its security staff was threatened.

Decision made over safety concerns after police called to centre Tuesday

Marion Willis of St. Boniface Street Links says she was devastated by the Centre Culturel Franco-Manitobain's decision to close an emergency shelter in its building to house vulnerable people living east of downtown during the COVID-19 pandemic. (Rosalie Loiselle/Radio-Canada)

A Winnipeg venue that was set to offer shelter to homeless people during the COVID-19 emergency has changed its plans after it says its security staff was threatened. 

The Centre Culturel Franco-Manitobain had teamed up with St. Boniface Street Links to open an emergency shelter to house vulnerable people living east of downtown during the COVID-19 pandemic. It was meant to help homeless people practice safe social distancing and self-isolation. 

But CCFM has decided to withdraw from the project after a threatening incident that forced it to close on Tuesday, the centre told Radio-Canada. 

In an email to Radio-Canada, the Winnipeg Police Service said it was called to the centre at about 12:52 p.m. Tuesday about a man in distress. The man was taken to hospital in unstable condition and the matter is being treated as a medical incident, a police spokesperson said. 

The decision is "devastating," said Marion Willis, founder and executive director of St. Boniface Street Links, which is now scrambling to find a new location for the shelter.

"It was a project that was really, really bringing the community together at a time when we really do need the community to come together," she said.

Willis said St. Boniface Street Links has had some discussions with the Manitoba Metis Federation and other organizations about finding another location for the shelter.

As of Wednesday morning, there have been 21 confirmed and probable cases of the coronavirus identified in Manitoba.