Charlottetown outreach centre worried about winter capacity

·2 min read

The community outreach centre at Smith Lodge in Charlottetown is getting ready for winter.

Representatives from the centre presented to a legislative committee Wednesday about the challenges they are facing.

The outreach centre, which aims to help those struggling with issues related to addiction, mental health and homelessness, is staffed by the Salvation Army.

Going into the winter months there will likely be a greater need at the centre and capacity is an issue, says Lt. Emily Newbury with the Salvation Army.

Tony Davis/CBC
Tony Davis/CBC

"We acknowledge there will be people who need refuge from the cold and that is a space that they can go, but we ultimately also want to assist them in changing their situation and seeking assistance from community partners," Newbury said.

"We would hope that we wouldn't have to turn anyone away."

'Looking for a new location'

When the pilot project was announced for the community outreach centre at Smith Lodge, it was to be a 28-bed facility. Due to COVID-19, only 12 to 15 people are able to use the service at once, Newbury said.

"Our space is limited and given COVID we have to be extra careful," she said.

The P.E.I. Housing Corporation bought the land where Smith Lodge is, located at Weymouth and Dorchester streets, for $1.3 million.

Newbury said it's an older building and that comes with a set of challenges.

Laura Meader/CBC
Laura Meader/CBC

Though the building is technically wheelchair accessible, Newbury said there are narrow hallways and tight turns to navigate.

"We certainly are looking for a new location that is more permanent and better suited to serving clients," she said.

"It would be somewhere that has open space so that there can be gatherings of people when that is safe to do so."

Newbury said she would like to see the outreach centre able to offer things such as laundry services and a bathroom with a shower — but she understands a building like that isn't easy to find.

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