New Brunswick

Some residents disgruntled by emergency shelter, says Fredericton doctor

A Fredericton doctor says some people in the community are upset over the city’s temporary out-of-the-cold shelter.

A decision on whether a downtown shelter will continue to operate until March will take place Wednesday

Dr. Sara Davidson is hoping the winter shelter on Brunswick Street will stay in place until March. (CBC)

A Fredericton doctor says some people in the community are upset over the city's temporary out-of-the-cold shelter.

Although there haven't been any formal complaints about the Bishop's Court shelter, Dr. Sara Davidson, a local doctor who is involved with the shelter, said she was concerned when organizers learned someone wanted to shut it down.

"The person wasn't being terribly aggressive but they were saying very clearly that, 'This is my intent,'" she said.    

"We were all taken aback."

She said the complaint came in during the day last week while organizers were getting ready for the next group of people to stay the night.

Davidson said she hasn't heard about any complaints since then.

"It fortunately didn't happen when any of the guests were staying there," she said.

"It became obvious that there were some disgruntled people in the community, but it wasn't mounting to this big snowball."

Davidson took to Facebook to share her concerns and to encourage people to show their support for the shelter at a municipal committee meeting on Wednesday, which will determine whether the shelter will continue to run until March.

"I heard today a small but likely well organized group of people from the neighbourhood are planning on 'shutting it down' … not because anything has gone wrong, not because damage has occurred to their property, but because they find the very idea of homeless people having shelter in their neighbourhood distasteful," read the Facebook post.

Since Sunday, the post has received more than 600 shares on Facebook.

The emergency shelter has been open for just over a week and has been at capacity the past few nights. Most of the guests have been women.

The shelter can house up to 20 people, who are invited to come inside, have a shower, grab a coffee and something to eat and then rest for the night.

An information session

The former Anglican bishop's house has been converted into an emergency shelter. (Philip Drost/CBC)

Davidson said organizers held a meeting for residents on Tuesday, and people in the area were able to ask questions about the shelter and organizers could explain what it's all about.

"It was a good chance for people in the neighbourhood who had questions," she said.

"They're actually walking a bit of a tightrope of, 'Well I actually don't want people freezing to death but I also have concerns and questions because it happened very quickly,'" she said.

It's a pretty quiet and sedate place overall.- Dr. Sara Davidson

Davidson said the shelter is working closely with police and a mental health action team, in case a person is harmful to themselves or others.

"We would handle just as we would anywhere involving the right authorities to support that person," she said.

But for the most part, Davidson said residents in the area haven't noticed the shelter is there.

"It's a pretty quiet and sedate place overall," she said.

With files from Information Morning Fredericton


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