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Nova Scotia extends lease for shelter in former Dartmouth hotel

The Bridge is located in a former DoubleTree by Hilton hotel in Dartmouth, N.S. (CBC - image credit)
The Bridge is located in a former DoubleTree by Hilton hotel in Dartmouth, N.S. (CBC - image credit)

The Nova Scotia government is extending the lease for a shelter service that operates out of a hotel in Dartmouth.

In a news release on Thursday, the province said it would be extending the lease for The Bridge, located by the Macdonald Bridge, for another year from April 1 to March 31, 2025. It occupies the former DoubleTree by Hilton.

"I would love to see multi-year agreements, not just with The Bridge, but all of our service providers and it's something that I've directed the department to start looking at," Nova Scotia Community Services Minister Brendan Maguire told reporters on Thursday.

The Bridge is Nova Scotia's largest shelter, but it also has extended health services, including an occupational therapist, continuing care co-ordinator and mental health and addictions counsellors. It opened last year.

Nova Scotia's Department of Community Services is providing $19 million for the lease extension and operational funding, including service providers, security and food, the province said in the news release.

Maguire was asked about food services. He said he would provide additional information on the kitchen in the building. For now, however, he said much of the food will remain takeout.

Sheri Lecker, executive director of Adsum for Women and Children, says this is the food available on every floor of the bridge.
Sheri Lecker, executive director of Adsum for Women and Children, says this is the food available on every floor of the bridge.

In June 2023, Sheri Lecker with Adsum for Women and Children shared this photo with CBC News showing the food available on every floor of The Bridge. (Submitted by Sheri Lecker)

"It's not just fast food and Big Macs," Maguire said, referring to a McDonald's restaurant near The Bridge.

"They are eating all kinds of different foods and they're actually being provided wraparound services whether it's mental health and addiction and healthcare."

The province said the on-site health clinic at The Bridge has had more than 1,900 visits since it opened, reducing emergency department visits and long-term hospital stays. An average of 125 people use the clinic each month.

Nova Scotia Community Services Minister Brendan Maguire took questions from reporters on Thursday, March 7, 2024.
Nova Scotia Community Services Minister Brendan Maguire took questions from reporters on Thursday, March 7, 2024.

Nova Scotia Community Services Minister Brendan Maguire took questions from reporters on March 7, 2024. (CBC)

The province says since opening, The Bridge has helped shelter about 185 people experiencing homelessness each month.

Adsum for Women and Children manages all the non-health care. Welcome Housing and Support Services will provide housing support services.

As of Thursday, there were 558 shelter beds across Nova Scotia, with 399 in the Halifax region.

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