New Brunswick

Fredericton wants 'coherent' homelessness plan from province

Fredericton council has written a letter to the province asking for a "coherent" plan for April 1, once the current, temporary out-of-the-cold shelter shuts its doors.

Out-of-the-cold shelter is set to close March 31

The temporary out-of-the-cold shelter is operating in the old bishop's house on Brunswick Street until March 31. (Philip Drost/CBC)

With seven weeks remaining until Fredericton's makeshift out-of-the-cold shelter shuts its doors, the City is asking the province for a plan by April 1.

The temporary overnight shelter, located at 791 Brunswick Street is set to close on March 31.

The shelter was patched together quickly last fall when the community rallied together to ease the number of people sleeping on the streets this winter.

Monday night, council approved to send a letter to the minister of social development, Dorothy Shephard, asking for a plan from the province.

"We're really just asking the province to take on its responsibility of taking care of the homeless," said Coun. Kate Rogers. 

"It is provincial jurisdiction."

Looking for new location

The letter from Mayor Mike O'Brien asks that the Department of Social Development and the Department of Transportation and Infrastructure work together to identify a temporary shelter location, different than the current property, but somewhere that's able to accommodate the current demand.

The current shelter operates largely on volunteers, in the property donated by the Anglican diocese of Fredericton to the Community Action Group on Homelessness.

Before the temporary out-of-the-cold shelter opened in Fredericton, eight tents lined up near downtown to give people shelter from cold and snow. (Gary Moore/CBC)

Zoning issues were a problem when the community worked hastily to set up the shelter last fall.

Fredericton and the province worked together to make quick, temporary changes to allow the out-of-the-cold shelter to operate in the former Anglican bishop's house.

The current out-of-the-cold shelter is in Rogers' ward. She says there haven't been any major concerns with the shelter in the residential neighbourhood, but keeping it there just isn't an option.  

"It's not properly zoned, it's non-conforming use right now, we only have that indemnification until March 31. Everything comes to an end March 31."

'Coherent plan'

Coun. Kate Rogers says the current location for the out-of-the-cold shelter isn't a long term solution. (Gary Moore/CBC)

Rogers says right now the City is hoping to hear back from the province as soon as possible to avoid having people on the streets again in April — which is typically still a cold month.

According to the letter to the province, there have been meetings between city staff and the province, but the City is "concerned that there does not appear to be a coherent plan of action."

"[The city doesn't] have the resources and the services to provide assistance to [the] homeless," Rogers said Monday evening after the council meeting.

About the Author

Gary Moore

CBC News

Gary Moore is a video journalist based in Fredericton.


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