Homeless shelter overwhelmed by community response after fire shuts Halifax building

·2 min read
Photos show damage to large parts of the Souls Harbour Rescue Mission building on 5568 Cunard St. in Halifax after the fire on Wednesday night.  (Souls Harbour Rescue Mission - image credit)
Photos show damage to large parts of the Souls Harbour Rescue Mission building on 5568 Cunard St. in Halifax after the fire on Wednesday night. (Souls Harbour Rescue Mission - image credit)

A downtown Halifax shelter for people who are homeless was evacuated after a fire Wednesday night.

Michelle Porter, CEO of Souls Harbour Rescue Mission, told CBC Radio's Maritime Noon that all shelter guests are safe and were transported to Château Bedford Hotel and Suites.

The damaged building at 5568 Cunard St., which opened in 2022, houses a drop-in centre and a nine-bed shelter that works with men who are dealing with addiction, mental health problems or other issues that prevent them from living on their own, Porter said.

Porter said she was grateful to Château Bedford for taking in her residents, but the hotel is going to be full on Saturday and she had no idea where they will go then.

According to Porter, it looked like the fire started in a side yard and burned up the building, damaging the back stairwell which is the emergency exit for the building.

"Until that can be repaired, we would not be able to house people here," Porter said. " We're also unable to have people in the building at all right now."

Porter said there was a lot of water damage in the furnace room, which contains a new furnace.

On Wednesday night, Porter appealed on Facebook for people to help provide 150 bagged lunches for the drop-in centre, which serves over a hundred meals a day. She said the response from the community was overwhelming.

"We now have all the lunches provided and spoken for up right through Saturday," she said. "We'll be doing street lunches for the rest of the week and we'll know more this afternoon once the remediation team comes back to tell us when we can re-enter."

Porter said the organization's main priority is to get the kitchen and dining room back up and running so they can continue to serve those who need it.

A fire fund for the shelter was set up on the Souls Harbour Rescue Mission website.

"It's really neat to see the community coming together — it's absolutely humbling and wonderful to watch," Porter said.

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