How a new van will help Charlottetown street navigator help others

Tami MacIntyre spends her days getting to know the people living and spending time in the streets of downtown Charlottetown.

'It's a safe place to jump in and get warm and make calls'

Tami MacIntyre says the van will make her job as street navigator much easier. (Sarah MacMillan/CBC)

Tami MacIntyre spends her days getting to know the people living and spending time in the streets of downtown Charlottetown. 

As Downtown Charlottetown Inc's street navigator, MacIntyre aims to help homeless people and panhandlers — by making personal connections, helping them access services, offering warm clothing and more. 

Now, MacIntyre has a new tool to help her help others — a van gifted to the outreach project by the provincial government. 

"It was pretty exciting, it was a great Christmas gift," MacIntyre said. 

'Invaluable to what we do'

DCI first launched the street navigator program in 2016, with a break in the service when funding ran out in 2017, resuming in 2018

DCI's executive director Dawn Alan says the program has helped many people, and the new "office on wheels" will make MacIntyre's job much easier. Alan says ministers Health MacDonald and Richard Brown identified the need to the province.

MacIntyre will no longer have to travel back and forth to the Downtown Charlottetown office as often to pick up supplies like warm clothing to give to people in need.

It will also make her day-to-day work easier.

The van will allow the street navigator to take people to appointments, and also to offer a place to warm up, have a conversation, or make a phone call. (Sarah MacMillan/CBC)

"There might be a need to use her phone, there might be a need to just get out of the cold. Whatever that is, you can imagine how uncomfortable some days the conversations are on the cold street corners," Alan said.  

"To be able to have a van, in which we can carry our hats and mitts and coats, our gift cards, sit and use the phone, drive a client to an appointment, is invaluable to what we do."

Already proving useful

The van just hit the streets this week, and already, MacIntyre has used it to transport several people to appointments.

The vehicle has decals on each side, identifying it as as being part of the outreach program. MacIntyre hopes when people see the van, they'll know they are welcome to ask for help. 

"I want them to know that they can approach the van any time. I try to be out as much as I can, and you know it's a safe place to jump in and get warm and make calls and whatever it takes."

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With files from Mainstreet P.E.I.

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