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Tent city putting ‘big pressure’ on new Moncton homeless shelter, director says

Click to play video 'New Moncton shelter pressured to open amid frustration of delays' New Moncton shelter pressured to open amid frustration of delays
WATCH: Some Moncton city councilors are frustrated over another delay in the opening of a new homeless shelter. But the charity that's building the shelter says it's facing too much pressure to open as a means of dealing with the tent city. Shelley Steeves reports – Aug 20, 2019

Some Moncton city councillors are frustrated over another delay in the opening of a new homeless shelter.

But the charity that’s building the shelter says it’s facing too much pressure to open ⁠— as a means of dealing with the tent city.

“Right now the big pressure, the big pressure is the tent city, and I am not managing the tent city,” said Jean Dube, The House of Nazareth’s executive director.

Dube said the new homeless shelter was supposed to partially opened on Aug. 1st, but there have been numerous unexpected construction delays.

But that’s not his main source of stress.

WATCH (July 24, 2019): Moncton residents raise concerns about safety in community

Click to play video 'Moncton residents raise concerns about safety in community' Moncton residents raise concerns about safety in community
Moncton residents raise concerns about safety in community – Jul 24, 2019

“To open because there is a tent down the street, that is not our mission,” he said. “Our mission is to open a centre that is safe for the public, that is safe for the clients and is safe for the staff.”

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In June, the city said people living in the tent city could stay until the shelter opened in early August

“It put an enormous amount of pressure on a charity group that is trying to do good for the community,” said Dube, who admitted the new construction project is taking longer than expected.

He said they’ve been using primarily volunteers to rough out the construction as a means of cutting costs and ran into some setbacks.

“We had a drain in the wall but it wasn’t big enough so we had to cut into the three-inch pipe.”

He said they have since hired a construction manager and an architectural firm to produce professional construction plans. The fire marshall told him the plans must be approved by the province before the facility can open.

“We were sidelined by that, we were taken by surprise.”

WATCH (June 20, 2019): City of Moncton allowing people living in tent to stay put until new shelter is built

Click to play video 'City of Moncton allowing people living in tent to stay put until new shelter is built' City of Moncton allowing people living in tent to stay put until new shelter is built
City of Moncton allowing people living in tent to stay put until new shelter is built – Jun 20, 2019

He admits he should not have given out timelines and will be asking both levels of government for more funding to get the shelter open faster.

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The delays are also a concern for Coun. Charles Leger, who said the tent city will soon need to be moved to make way for the construction of the new RCMP station.

“I am told that this fall the site has to be vacated and exactly what date that will be I don’t have that information, but it certainly was always meant to be a temporary measure.”

Trevor Goodwind, Director of YMCA ReConnect, said the roughly 35 people living in the tent city need a place to go before the weather gets colder, and if the new shelter doesn’t open soon, he said: “it just prolongs the process of helping our community and helping people that are disadvantaged.”

A spokesperson for the City of Moncton said it is discussing its transition plan for the tent city within the next few days.

Meanwhile, Dube says he hopes to have the new shelter open by October but stopped short of setting a firm date.