Province 'assured' Moncton a third homeless shelter will open in coming months
Provincial government has not confirmed city's statements
While the City of Moncton says it has been 'assured' by the provincial government that a third homeless shelter will open in the coming months, the province won't confirm that and says instead it is focused on "long-term solutions."
"We've been assured by the province, and I fully believe, that there is going to be another permanent shelter that is damp, that is going to be set up by the fall," Vincent Merola, Moncton's community development officer for social inclusion, told reporters April 18.
A damp shelter has more lenient rules about allowing people in who have consumed alcohol or drugs.
Merola made a similar statement at a public meeting April 24, saying a shelter would open in "late summer or early fall" and accommodate both women and men.
But the province has not directly answered repeated requests over recent weeks to confirm that. Dorothy Shephard, the minister of Social Development, was not made available to answer questions.
"The Department will continue to support shelters when needed, but we want our focus to remain on providing long-term, permanent solutions to end homelessness, such as wrap-around supports and rent supplements," Danielle Elliott, a spokesperson for Social Development, said in an email last week.
"We know that community groups and the municipality are interested in developing a new shelter in Moncton. The department looks forward to continuing its work with our community partners and the municipality on our shared priorities."
The same statement was sent in April when CBC News asked for confirmation of a third shelter following Merola's comments.
It's not clear how much a new shelter could cost.
The province provided just over $80,000 to each of the two existing shelters in 2018-19. The city provided grants of $25,000 to each of the shelters.
Last week, it was revealed that Fredericton would receive more than $50,000 from the province after the city requested funding for an out-of-the-cold shelter. The city submitted a request for the funding to the province.
Isabelle LeBlanc, Moncton's director of communications, said the idea of opening a third shelter has been discussed in meetings where a provincial government representative is present. But the city has not sent a letter to the province, as Fredericton did, making a formal request.
Two out-of-the-cold shelters opened in Moncton last winter amid an outcry from the community to do more to address homelessness.
A shelter run by volunteers at the Humanity Project saw about 50 people per night. A government-funded shelter at the former Assumption Boulevard fire hall saw a similar number of people each night. Both closed at the start of April.
The province increased funding for the city's existing two shelters to boost capacity.
When Moncton ordered a tent camp dismantled behind the Assumption Boulevard fire hall last month, several people staying there said they didn't want to go to the existing shelters because of the rules.
Meanwhile, there's still no word on when a provincial affordable housing and homelessness plan will be released. Funding from the federal government that would be used for that plan started to flow April 1.