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Council plans to support Viola’s Place shelter

LifeShelter will see a revival as a homeless shelter following purchase by a board that has been working on the issue.
The former LifeShelter building is expected to house a new homeless shelter called Viola's Place - FILE

Just as winter arrives, New Glasgow town council plans to provide financial support in the coming fiscal year for Viola’s Place.

Council decided the funding is contingent on the shelter’s board doing their due diligence and providing a plan on running the shelter.
At their Dec.18 committee meeting, council approved a contribution of $7,500 to Viola’s Place. This contribution is pending the results of an appraisal of the old Life Centre Church where the shelter is located, a viable operating plan, with a three- to five-year projection – and confirmation of funding from other municipalities asked for support by the shelter’s board, and from the federal government.

New Glasgow is one of several municipalities in the Pictou County area called upon to support the shelter, which is moving to its original location on Marsh Street. The Town of New Glasgow and the Municipality of Pictou County were asked to provide $15,000 between the two of them.

Council discussed how much need there is for a shelter. Coun. John Guthro said use, “from what I understand, is about one to three people, per week – and they have recurrent visitors. The main thing is that there’s some place for them to go.”

Clyde Fraser stated he thinks the shelter’s relocation back to Marsh Street will be ideal, because of its proximity to other resources and support systems in the town.
Coun. Frank Proudfoot expressed concern that the operation may not be sustainable, without a solid plan for staffing costs, and plans to run on volunteer work – a concern reflected in council’s request for an operating plan.

“It’s expensive to do what they’re doing down there,” said Coun. Jack Lewis. “A lot of the stuff that needed to be done was there, had to be done – and that’s there. They had to do quite a bit of renovation in there at the time.”

Mayor Nancy Dicks also expressed concern over the shelter board’s intent to pursue grants for salaries, saying “funding for salaries is unheard of. In non-profits, they will typically fund programs, but it’s usually not a person they’ll pay for in that program.”

Dicks later made a recommendation that the board consult those who got the Roots For Youth program running. The members of that board went through a very similar process about eight years ago, she noted, and have a good understanding of how the process works.

Lewis said, “we have to make a commitment if they want it by April. That depends on everything going through at the same time, and everyone ponying up with the money. If us and Stellarton are the only ones putting money through, can it go ahead?”

After further discussion, council members decided they need more information on the shelter and how its board plans to run it, before providing funding this coming April.

Coun. Troy MacCulloch suggested “agreeing at $7,500, going forward,” and that “hopefully (by April), they have everything else lined up.”
“Looking at our community, there’s obviously a need for this place,” said MacCulloch. “There are people who use it – and not just use it – need it. So, where do they go, if it’s not there?”

The motion to approve funding was unanimously carried by council.

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