A warm place for Christmas: people move to emergency shelters on church properties in HRM

At least nine people are warm and cold and are living in emergency shelters on church properties this Christmas Eve.

Neil Wolthers, Operations Manager at Well Engineered Inc., and his crew have been working flat out over the past month to build 20 accommodations for the Archdiocese of Halifax-Yarmouth by Christmas Eve.

They didn’t quite make it – 12 are now installed – but the good news is they should be ready within two weeks, many of them are already occupied, and the Archdiocese has reached its fundraising goal of $ 230,000. Each protection costs about $ 11,500 to install.

John Stevens of the Archdiocese of Halifax-Yarmouth said they are pleased with the progress and are encouraging people to move in as soon as the accommodations are ready.

“I do not know the number at the moment because it is a little in flux, but yesterday we had nine people and 12 emergency shelters open,” he said in a telephone interview on Friday.

On a particularly cold night on Thursday, Wolthers and his team installed two shelters in the Saint Benedict Catholic Church in Clayton Park.

Stevens said they had people to move in, it’s just about getting them in asap.

The residents’ comments have been grateful so far, said Stevens.

“Of course, if they got out of a tent, that’s a big step up and they’re happy to have a place that is sheltered from the cold,” he said.

Three more accommodations are ready, said Wolthers, they plan to install them next week. A total of 15 are being built, the last five are 75 percent ready, he reported on Friday.

“Basically, the installation, the amount of work and the amount of work involved in carrying out the approval process were more than we had originally estimated, simply because we had never done this before,” said Wolthers. “I mean, we’ve never built a building before.”


Well Engineered Inc.’s crew is building 20 emergency shelters for the Archdiocese of Halifax-Yarmouth. – File photo by Eric Wynne

For the next two weeks they will be at St. Patrick’s Catholic Church and St. Mother Teresa Catholic Church, both in Halifax, St. Ignatius Catholic Church in Bedford, and St. Wolthers Church said they also plan to to install a shelter in Amherst and two in Bridgewater.

“But it is very dependent on the weather on this whole trench business. If I get into frozen ground I’ll have to get a bigger machine, ”he said. “So now we’re with those who are more difficult.”

Stevens said that now that the archdiocese has reached its fundraising goal, they are looking for ways to do even more to help the residents of the shelters. He said he didn’t know if that would mean more accommodation. Some of them are difficult to install, which increases the cost.

“But we may build more accommodations, we have to see what we get with the first 20, whether we can get 20 people in first and then we see what is left, whether there is money for more accommodations” or if there is a better one If there is an opportunity to invest in the residents, we will do that too. “

City modules and emergency shelters

The Halifax Regional Municipality is building two emergency shelters in Dartmouth and Halifax.

Last week, city officials said the projects are being delayed.


Construction of the modular emergency housing projects in Halifax and Dartmouth has been delayed.  The Dartmouth project is now expected to be completed in the first week of January and the Halifax site will be scheduled once the Dartmouth site is completed.  - HRM
Construction of the modular emergency housing projects in Halifax and Dartmouth has been delayed. The Dartmouth project is now expected to be completed in the first week of January and the Halifax site will be scheduled once the Dartmouth site is completed. – HRM

The residential project in a parking lot on Alderney Drive in Dartmouth, which will be completed by the end of the month, will not be ready for occupancy until the first week of January.

The deadline for the modular Halifax project, which will take over part of the Centennial Pool parking lot, is also under big question marks.

Originally slated for late January, the community now says the Halifax site “will become clearer when we complete the Dartmouth site”.

On Thursday, the HRM tweeted that the community was helping the province’s efforts to set up temporary housing. As of Thursday evening, city officials said it will be open for three nights, with a thermal center open during the day. The tweet said the location will not be disclosed to protect the safety of the people living there.



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