PEI

Outreach centre moves into new Charlottetown home Friday

A community hub now has more room to help people in its new home. The Community Outreach Centre officially moves to its new space in the former Charlottetown Curling Club building on Friday

Centre is back on Euston Street in the old Charlottetown Curling Club

The Community Outreach Centre began as a pilot project at 211 Euston St. in 2020, before moving to other areas temporarily. Its new home is back on Euston Street in an old curling club. (Brian Higgins/CBC)

The Community Outreach Centre officially moves to its new space in the former Charlottetown Curling Club building on Friday, according to a release from the P.E.I. government on Thursday. 

Provincial officials took over the building at 241 Euston St. earlier this spring.

"We are delighted to have a new location for the Community Outreach Centre that offers more indoor and outdoor space," Brad Trivers, minister of social development and housing, said in the release. "The centre is a vital hub for Islanders in need."

The centre offers support to people seeking financial assistance, counselling, employment, food and housing. Islanders can also access washrooms, laundry facilities, telephones and computers as well as connections to community and government organizations and services.

It will continue to be open seven days a week at the new location from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m.

Officials told CBC News that an average of 75 people will use the centre's services each month, about 65 per cent of them male and 35 per cent female.

"Over the medium or the long term, I think we're going to see some more plans put in place for this space," Trivers said in an afternoon interview. "So although we have no plans to move the outreach centre again, I think what you will see is a longer-term plan to make changes and improve this space for a number of different services."

The centre was developed in partnership with community groups including the Canadian Mental Health Association, the Salvation Army and the Native Council of P.E.I. Those groups continue to provide oversight.

The move not only provides additional space for clients, partners and staff, but also opens the door for the expansion of services down the road.- Donna Keenan

Donna Keenan, reaching home co-ordinator at the John Howard Society and working group member, said the move is a "really positive step" for the centre.

"The move not only provides additional space for clients, partners and staff, but also opens the door for the expansion of services down the road," Keenan said in the release.

Councillor called for meeting

Last month, Coun. Mitchell Tweel asked the province to hold a public meeting with those living around the centre's most recent Weymouth Street address before moving the centre into the former curling club in his ward.

While Tweel did not specify his exact concerns about the centre's operations, he said issues around discipline should be looked at, and how often police or paramedics were involved in the space.

Trivers has said Tweel has valid concerns, noting there are two schools in the area, and agreed "we need to look at how we would solve those issues."

Third location for centre

The outreach centre first opened in January 2020 at a location on Euston Street, also in Tweel's ward, before it moved to its current location at 35 Weymouth St., as part of Smith Lodge, which the province has been developing as a transitional housing complex.

Charlottetown Coun. Mitchell Tweel called for the province to hold a public meeting for residents near the centre's most recent location on Weymouth Street before moving it into the old curling club in his district. (Kirk Pennell/CBC)

Soon after Tweel's comments, a Charlottetown woman wanted to counter what she called a not-in-my-backyard (NIMBY) moment into a "YIMBY" one. Sarah MacEachern heads up a group of citizens printing and selling T-shirts with the slogan YIMBY: yes in my backyard.

"I know that if the outreach centre of any of those type of services was to move into my community, I would be A-OK with it," MacEachern said last month.

Alanna Jankov, the councillor for the ward where the outreach centre was most recently located, said in May that the number one concern she hears is around "the need for increased size and accessibility."

Trivers has also said the centre needed to be moved to allow more capacity at Smith Lodge, which is meant to house up to 20 transitional beds but could only accommodate nine while hosting the centre.

Smith Lodge will continue to operate as a transitional housing complex after the centre moves to its new location.

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