People who live near a Fredericton drop-in centre for the homeless say it has brought theft, drug use and inappropriate public behaviour to their residential neighbourhood.
And they’re asking town to cease a proposed enlargement of the Phoenix Learning Centre, which would come with including an additional storey to the Woodstock Road location, with 9 assisted residing items for folks who are homeless.
Phoenix has already seen elevated use as a drop-in centre over the previous 12 months, as many downtown places had to shut or prohibit entry in the course of the pandemic, leaving many with out shelter from the chilly in the course of the day .
Mark Hazlett lives within the area and stated the centre’s proposed function will not be appropriate with the residential neighbourhood.
“Within 50 metres of the centre there are eight school-age youngsters,” stated Hazlett.
“There have been quite a few incidents of theft. We had a centre patron in a youngsters’s playhouse. There’s used drug needles on neighbouring properties, public urination and laborious drug use in open view of the encompassing properties, and that is actually what is de facto unacceptable.”
Police calls up
A planning advisory committee report stated the Fredericton police have already seen a rise in calls to the area.
“The frequency of calls sharply elevated for the reason that starting of the month of February, which had 35 requires service,” stated the report.
“At the time of preparation of this report there have [been] virtually day by day service calls to the positioning in the course of the month of March.”
Sara Davidson, who helped begin the centre, stated the present operation is a response to the pandemic disaster and doesn’t symbolize how the centre would function sooner or later.
She stated the purpose of the proposed enlargement is to get extra homeless folks into housing, which the centre would assist present, which in flip would cut back the incidence of points corresponding to public drug use
“The long-term purpose is to have much more folks being housed, after which they don’t seem to be going to have to be exterior,” stated Davidson.
“It could be a failure of our complete centre if we stored folks on this disaster mode all this time.”
As of March 12, town had acquired 93 public feedback concerning the proposal. The planning advisory committee will vote Thursday on the rezoning request.
Donald Fraser, who lives near the centre and had his property damaged last year, stated issues have gotten worse since that incident.
“I’ve had strangers harass me by my dining-room window, adjoining to the shelter, as I attempt to eat breakfast,” stated Fraser.
“I’ve struggled with folks banging on my entrance door and strolling throughout my property to get to the shelter. People are leaving rubbish near my property. They’re utilizing the surface property as a public washroom, in addition to an area for express sexual exercise. Last week, I went to prepare dinner lunch on my barbecue and found my propane tank was stolen.”
Allan Menzies, a enterprise proprietor within the neighbourhood, stated the centre has had a damaging affect on his enterprise.
“In the Phoenix Learning Centre’s quick historical past, we personally have skilled further foot visitors by our non-public property, purchasing carts left in our parking zone and used syringes discovered within the area of our workplace entrance door,”
There have been additionally feedback supportive of the venture.
“The present COVID-19 pandemic has revealed the challenges of homelessness, and it is a matter that we will not ignore as a group,” stated Eve Baird.
“The psychological well being disaster can also be on the forefront, and I imagine that this initiative may help of us who really want it.”
Changes not sufficient
Hazlett stated the centre has listened to residents’ issues and has made some modifications, corresponding to including porta-potties to cut back public urination, however these fixes have not been sufficient.
“These enhancements haven’t stopped the laborious drug use. All it’s performed is transfer it to the fringes of the property or contained in the porta-potties. As not too long ago as final Friday, a neighbour documented some open hard-drug use two weeks after the safety guard was employed.”
Hazlett prompt the Victoria Health Centre be used to home the brand new centre as an alternative, with the assisted residing items.
Davidson stated she would help utilizing the Victoria Health Centre however stated there would have to be authorities buy-in, and the Phoenix Learning Centre venture would nonetheless transfer ahead.
The centre is working on an emergency zoning allow due to the pandemic, but when the rezoning software is rejected, there could be little alternative for the centre, she stated.
“I assume folks have to return exterior,” stated Davidson.