Fredericton’s Small Craft and Aquatic Centre could become an emergency out-of-the-cold homeless shelter this winter.
Executive director of Fredericton Homeless Shelters Inc. Warren Maddox said the shelters are working on a plan to use the city’s summer river activity facility next door to its men’s shelter.
The centre is open from May to September, and offers kayaking, canoeing and sailing lessons. It is closed through the winter months.
Maddox got permission from the city to apply for the space at Monday’s council meeting, and hopes to use the top floor from December 2021 to late April 2022.
Maddox said, between them, the shelters and the John Howard Society have space for 97 people, but he’s not sure that will be enough to house people who could be out in the cold this winter.
“We think we have capacity within the system. But if we do have capacity, it is just barely enough,” he told Information Morning Fredericton. “Not having excess capacity makes us a little bit nervous.”
Maddox said the aquatic centre is a suitable space for an out-of-the-cold shelter because it’s a large open-concept room, it has showers for men and women and it’s close to the main shelter.
He said the application still has to go to the planning advisory committee, then back to council for final approval.
“I don’t anticipate really any major hurdles at this point, just simply because we’re not doing this at the 11th hour as a knee jerk crisis reaction,” Maddox said. “We’re taking our time and doing our planning.”
Wayne Knorr, spokesperson for the City of Fredericton, said the space that may be used in the building is currently vacant.
“We are proactively getting the necessary approvals in place, should the need arise,” he said.
Knorr said the shelters would manage the space, if it is approved.
COVID-19 case in the shelters
Maddox said the Fredericton men’s shelter has recorded its first case of COVID-19. He said a resident tested positive last week and is doing well in isolation at a motel.
He said the 18 other men who were in contact with the man are also being isolated in an area of the shelter and being tested daily.
“We decorated the Christmas tree the other day, the DVD player’s running and so we’re doing well,” he said.
All of the staff are fully vaccinated, he said, and the majority of the residents have had two doses as well.
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