The City of Moncton, N.B., will be housing people experiencing homelessness in large heated tents starting in late December, as the opening of a 125-bed emergency shelter at the Moncton Lions Community Centre is pushed until January.
The move comes amid concern for Moncton’s expanding unhoused population as the weather grows colder.
Supt. Benoit Jolette of the Codiac RCMP told council during Monday evening’s meeting that security is an issue at the current shelters, which are often running at maximum security.
“There are a lot of people there and a lot of people that are struggling with very serious issues so unfortunately, that leads to calls for service where there may be criminality,” Jolette said.
“Sometimes it’s only a couple calls per day but I’ve seen some where we can get called to one of the shelters up to 20 times a day.”
The city will be installing large heated tents to house people starting later this month.
“Those tents … there won’t be any services. Basically, there will be a cot, there will be heat, there will be security and there might be staff just to help them out just to set up, but there won’t be any services provided in those tents,” said Conrad Landry, director of Moncton Community Safety Programs.
He said there will be 60 beds in each tent.
The tents will be located in the parking lot of the Lions Club, which will become an emergency shelter in January.
It’s a stop-gap measure to be able to offer homeless people a warm place to stay before they are able to access the new shelter, which will offer mental health and substance use disorder resources.
The city is working on finding alternative locations for the community groups that use the Lions Centre.
“With community groups, we have made some recommendations for some of them and we’ve been going down the list to make sure their needs are met,” said Katherine MacIntyre, the general manager for Moncton Community Services.
The city will be keeping one tent open all winter as an overflow for the new shelter.
Landry said the city will announce which organization they chose to run the shelter on Tuesday.