The Nova Scotia civil servant overseeing delivery of 200 small heated shelters for the homeless is pointing to the need for community “buy in” and proper access to services such as washrooms before they are installed.
Melissa MacKinnon, the deputy minister of the Department of Community Services, told a legislature committee today she needs confirmation from the Department of Public Works that occupants of the so-called pallet shelters will have access to nearby running water and electrical outlets.
Ms. MacKinnon was being pressed for a timeline for delivery of the shelters by Liberal Opposition Leader Zach Churchill, who said he fears people will die from colder temperatures now hitting the province if action isn’t taken soon.
However, Ms. MacKinnon also said the province wants municipal councils to indicate support and for the wider public to “accept them as part of a larger community.”
She says her department needs to make agreements with local non-profit groups to ensure food and other services are available.
The pallet homes are small units with electricity and some insulation that are usually erected in a group.
Volunteer groups for the homeless have said there’s a growing risk to encampment residents from sub-zero temperatures and heavy winds, like those that blew down tents in Halifax on Monday.