Dozens of homeless could be sleeping on Fredericton's streets this winter

If no additional beds are provided, about 40 people in Fredericton will be sleeping in the streets this winter, according to the executive director of Fredericton Homeless Shelters Inc.

"Somebody has to decide what they're going to do. We can increase capacity, but we need a lot more government support than what we're getting," said Warren Maddox.

"There's a number of options that are out there but given the current budgets and that sort of stuff we're pretty much maxed out."

Fredericton city council plans to address the issue at its council meeting on Tuesday night. A recommendation will be tabled for Mayor Mike O'Brien to write to the minister of social development, asking for an update on the province's plans to help the city's homeless. 

A city staff report states there's been "no evidence that any measures have been put in place for the upcoming winter to shelter those currently not housed."

Maddox said he's had meetings with the Department of Social Development about expanding the current shelters, but hasn't heard yet whether that will be possible. 

Out-of-the-cold shelter

Gary Moore/CBC

In May, the province said it would offer $50,000 toward a 20-bed out-of-the-cold shelter for the city, but Maddox said that's not enough money for a shelter. He hasn't heard anything more about the proposed shelter since the announcement was made in May. 

Coun. Bruce Grandy, chair of the city's development committee, said he wants to hear from the province soon. He doesn't want the city to have to scramble at the last minute to make any necessary zoning changes, as it did last year.

In 2018, the emergency shelter had to be rushed through the zoning amendment process in order to open in time to be of use for the winter season. Grandy said that didn't give the proper time for public engagement. 

"I think it's important that whatever plans that the government may have, that we know about them early, so if there's zoning or anything else that needs to be addressed, that can be done in the appropriate manner," he said. 

"Part of the planning process is to ensure you engage the surrounding community, make sure they have time to comment, and make sure the zoning is appropriate."