Rising Tide, the Moncton affordable housing non-profit, has lost its health-care partner for a proposed medical clinic and 20-unit apartment building.
The group had planned to work with Salvus Clinic, a not-for-profit providing medical services to vulnerable people in Moncton. Rising Tide sought millions in provincial funding for the project and wanted to formally announce the money later this month.
The plan would have seen Salvus relocate its medical facility from downtown to the new building in central Moncton. It was to offer services to residents of the building, who were expected to be some of the hardest to house people now living on the streets.
However, Salvus Clinic recently told Rising Tide its board voted not to proceed with the partnership.
"The Salvus Clinic's immediate priority is securing a new, accessible location before the end of July 2023," states the letter, obtained by CBC News, dated Feb. 21.
"Moreover, Salvus Clinic must prioritize strengthening current programs, enhancing human resources, and securing funding to ensure long-term viability. Hence, without a firm commitment from partners on additional, sustainable funding, there is no capacity for a program expansion."
Melissa Baxter, Salvus Clinic's executive director, declined an interview request last month and issued a statement Tuesday reiterating the points made in the letter.
"We will re-evaluate opportunities for partnerships in the future," Baxter said.
Dale Hicks, Rising Tide's co-founder and board chair, said he was surprised, disappointed and perplexed when he received the letter.
"I'm waiting to hear back from the province because our position hasn't changed," Hicks said in an interview on Tuesday.
He said the organization is still willing to construct the building, expected to cost $8 to $9 million, if funding is provided.
Hicks told CBC last month that the organization was seeking $4 to $5 million in provincial funding. He has lobbied various departments and the premier to try to secure funding.
He told the audience, which included MLAs and at least one provincial cabinet minister, that he would book the same hotel conference room for March 20 where he hoped to announce the funding.
CBC News has requested comment from the province's departments of Health and Social Development.
5 other buildings planned
Rising Tide received $15.4 million from the federal, provincial and municipal governments over three years to supply 160 units to reduce homelessness in the city. It has opened 80 units so far, with seven more expected by month's end.
It received approval from Moncton's planning advisory committee last month for five more eight-unit buildings in various locations around the municipality.
Hicks, in an interview after the Feb. 22 committee meeting, said work would start on the first building in May.
The five buildings will have similar designs. Construction starts will be staggered and contractors will move from one to the other.
"By August, September, all five projects will be being worked on simultaneously, being constructed, and the first one is supposed to start in May, and the first unit is targeted for completion, I think, in late fall," Hicks said.
"Then you're going to start to see two weeks later — here's another one. So between, I'll say the the middle of November to the middle of January, those five properties will be occupied."
The completion of all five would bring the organization's total units to 127 in early 2024. Its target is 160 target by the end of March 2024.
Hicks said Rising Tide owns other properties where it plans more buildings.