Summerside men's shelter expected to open by April 1, province says
After several delays, the new men's shelter in Summerside, P.E.I., is set to open this spring, according to the province.
The six-bed shelter at 287 Winter St. is now set to open on April 1, once renovations to the inside and outside of the property are complete.
Shelley Cole, manager of housing services with the Department of Social Development and Housing, said that's the "target date" to have the shelter open.
"In today's world we live in, contractors are hard to come by and everyone's very busy, so it's been a bit of a challenge to get that work done as quickly as we would have hoped," Cole said.
"Construction is booming and there's lots of demand for contractors … much of the work that needs to be done has been completed and we have a few outstanding items."
Cole said some of those renovations include:
Upgrading smoke detectors and sprinkler heads.
Installing new lighting throughout the building.
Painting throughout the building.
Landscaping and cleaning up tree damage.
Installing a fence on three sides of the property.
Upgrading washroom facilities.
Creating a safe, secure intake facility for clients.
Installing security cameras inside and outside for client and staff safety.
Most of that work is now done, Cole said, with the security cameras and the fence left to finish up.
The estimated cost of the upgrades is around $125,000, she said.
Originally expected to open December/January
In the pitch to Summerside council last October, the Native Council of P.E.I. and Department of Social Development and Housing expected the shelter to be open by December — if council approved the project.
Council gave the go-ahead in November, but the opening date moved to at least January.
We want to make sure that we're the best we can be, and ready to be open. — Scott Carnall
Then in January, Scott Carnall, housing development officer with the Native Council of P.E.I., told CBC News the building needed renovations. That work would be done through the province and required proper approval and tenders, which pushed the opening date once again.
Speaking about the delays on Tuesday, Carnall said the hope was to open during the winter — but that timeframe didn't end up working with the amount of work required on the building.
"The reality is that you don't know until you get in a building exactly what the condition is and what you need to get done," he said.
"You can't just get the key and suddenly you can be ready in a week or so."
'It's inviting, it's warming'
Carnall told CBC News he's been to the property several times in the last month, and has seen the progress of the renovations.
The contractor will put the finishing touches on the facility in March before the Native Council of P.E.I. begins running the shelter. Carnall expects there to be at least two people staffed there 24/7.
"It's inviting, it's warming … I think there are plans to be done their renovations by the end of March, first week of April so once that's turned over we'll start customizing it and getting our people in there and ready for opening," Carnall said.
"Things have to be done properly and that's what we're focused on. We want to make sure that we're the best we can be, and ready to be open."
Like Carnall, Cole has been involved since the beginning and said it's going to be exciting to finally have the six-bed facility ready to go.
"The sooner that we can swing the doors open and welcome those male-identifying clients who are experiencing homelessness or housing insecurity in the Summerside or Prince County area … that's always a really good feeling," she said.
"It's incredibly challenging work but it's very very rewarding."