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CBRM counciller says neighbours have concerns about plans to put shelters in Whitney Pier

Coun. Lorne Green of the Cape Breton Regional Municipality has asked Community Services Minister Trevor Boudreau to attend a public meeting about a temporary shelter project slated for Whitney Pier, N.S. (Holly Conners/CBC - image credit)
Coun. Lorne Green of the Cape Breton Regional Municipality has asked Community Services Minister Trevor Boudreau to attend a public meeting about a temporary shelter project slated for Whitney Pier, N.S. (Holly Conners/CBC - image credit)

A municipal councillor in Sydney, N.S., says residents are raising concerns about plans to locate 30 self-contained temporary shelters in the Whitney Pier neighbourhood.

The provincial Department of Community Services announced plans on Jan. 10 to set up Pallet shelters in four communities: Sydney, Kentville, Lower Sackville and Halifax. Pallet is a U.S. supplier of emergency sleeping cabins that are intended for people experiencing homelessness.

Since the announcement, CBRM Coun. Lorne Green has been fielding hundreds of calls and emails from people in his Whitney Pier district.

"They're fearful for activity that will take place in the community," he said. "They don't want panhandling, which does not take place in this community now. They don't want people knocking on their doors and disturbing them. Or, you know, do they have to lock up their yards?"

The planned location is a vacant gravel lot on provincially owned land overlooking the former Sydney Steel plant.

The provincial government plans to buy 200 Pallet shelters for temporary housing.
The provincial government plans to buy 200 Pallet shelters for temporary housing.

The provincial government has purchase 200 shelters made by the U.S. supplier Pallet to use as temporary housing around Nova Scotia. Thirty of the sleeping cabins are earmarked for Sydney in Cape Breton. (Jim Meyers/VertizonPhoto)

"It's a quiet, kind of secluded part of the neighbourhood," said Green.

Two local organizations, New Dawn and the Ally Centre, will manage the shelters with round-the-clock staff on-site and the village will be fenced in for security.

Ally Centre executive director Christine Porter welcomes the 30 shelters, but has called them a "drop in the bucket" in dealing with the area's homelessness problem. She said earlier this month the organization has 58 people who need housing on its waiting list.

But there has been no consultation with the community and people have questions, said Green.

He's asked the minister of Community Services to come to Whitney Pier for a public meeting, but has received no response.

In a written statement to CBC News, Community Services spokesperson Christina Deveau said the department will "listen to concerns and issues when they are brought up by residents" and "work with service providers to address any community concerns."

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