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A shelter community is coming to Kentville. Residents are divided about it

Outreach worker Michelle Parker speaks to residents at a community meeting about the proposed site in north Kentville.  (Kathleen McKenna CBC News - image credit)
Outreach worker Michelle Parker speaks to residents at a community meeting about the proposed site in north Kentville. (Kathleen McKenna CBC News - image credit)

Residents attending a meeting in Kentville, N.S., this week expressed wide-ranging opinions on Pallet shelters coming to the community.

Some residents say they are concerned about personal safety and property values, while others are happy to see some help coming for Nova Scotians living on the street.

The provincial government has committed $3 million this year toward temporary shelters in Lower Sackville, Kentville and Whitney Pier in an effort to address the housing crisis in Nova Scotia.

Janice Palmer opposes the plan to install 20 temporary shelters in her north Kentville neighbourhood.

"There are houses right across the street, there's a daycare, the hospice, there's a mental health unit here," said Palmer. "They haven't considered the community at all."

For Palmer, one of the main concerns is how the shelters will affect housing prices in the area.

"Would [Housing Minister] John Lohr want this in his backyard?" Palmer said.

But Megan MacBride, a social worker who has worked with the homeless population for over 15 years, said the concerns are part of the wider issues surrounding homelessness.

"I think [opposition is] understandable, especially because folks experiencing homelessness have been so stigmatized," she said. "There's so many stereotypes that for the most part just aren't true."

She said she doesn't think "there needs to be as much fear as there is."

"These are folks who need service and we make our whole community better by keeping them safe and keeping them housed."

MacBride said she is glad that the province is finally starting to address homelessness, but hasn't seen a real plan.

The Open Arms Resource Centre in Kentville, which will run the shelter community, hosted the event.

Michelle Parker, the director of operations for the centre, said the event was a success because it helped their staff learn more about the community's concerns.

"I would rather have a difficult conversation and understand where someone's coming from and really try to work through that than not have a conversation at all," she said.

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