Nova Scotia

Burst pipe forces Halifax's winter shelter to scramble for new location

The Out of the Cold Emergency Winter Shelter recently moved into a new location on College Street in Halifax, but it has been forced to uproot because a pipe burst and damaged the facility.

Shelter's insurance company is assessing the damage and it will likely take months to make repairs

The Out of the Cold Emergency Winter Shelter recently moved into a new location on College Street in Halifax, but it has been forced to uproot because a pipe burst and damaged the facility. (Google Maps)

Halifax's emergency winter shelter is scrambling to find a temporary location just one week after it settled into its new home.

Last week, a pipe burst on the upper floor of the College Street shelter while no one was there.

"It ended up leaking for a while and it caused a lot of water damage, so we won't be back in this season," said Rebecca Whitzman, co-ordinator for the Out of the Cold Emergency Winter Shelter.

The shelter moved to the Needham Community Centre gym for two nights on the weekend and is now in the Brunswick Street Mission for one week.

The shelter is serving 15 guests per night and is overcapacity, but Whitzman said no one is being turned away.

Out of the Cold previously operated in the basement of St. Matthew's United Church for 10 years. (Out of the Cold/Facebook)

The shelter's insurance company is assessing the damage and Whitzman said it would likely take months to make repairs. The space may have to be gutted and rebuilt.

For the last 10 years, the shelter operated in the basement of St. Matthew's United Church in downtown Halifax.

Moving to the new location was a big change. The College Street location has bedrooms, a living room with a television and a kitchen where guests can gather and talk while staff cook meals.

"We were just commenting on how beautiful the space was, how cozy it was," said Jeff Karabanow, one of the shelter's founders. "The guests were really enjoying the space. It was a very different vibe than the shelter in the past."

Karabanow said the shelter can't stay long at the Brunswick Street Mission and is exploring where to go next.

Locations pondered in Spryfield, Fairview

One church in Spryfield and one church in Fairview have said they are open to the idea, but Karabanow said no final decisions have been made.

"We're just figuring out the transportation issue and seeing if we could get the funds to support folks coming back and forth," he said.

Karabanow said staff are exploring with the province and the city to see if a downtown location close to their regular clients is available, but he's doubtful one can be found on short notice.

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Shaina Luck

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Shaina Luck is an investigative reporter with CBC Nova Scotia. She has worked with local and network programs including The National and The Fifth Estate. Email: shaina.luck@cbc.ca

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