Federal, provincial cash on the way for $6.5M expansion project, Main Street Project says
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This article was published 01/08/2019 (1405 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
More than a year after making their funding requests, staff from Main Street Project are being assured the provincial and federal governments are on board to help cover at least some of the cost for their $6.5-million expansion proposal.
Main Street Project’s aim is to add 120 new beds in the Mitchell Fabrics building at Main Street and Logan Avenue as soon as possible, along with an array of health services and a 24-hour cafeteria.
The 36,000-square-foot space would be about 17 times the size of the agency’s current footprint, which has 85 mats for clients in an emergency shelter area available from 7 p.m. to 7 a.m. daily.
The new beds would be available for stays up to seven days, allowing clients time to find their footing and access front-line services, executive director Rick Lees said in an interview Wednesday.
“Rather than having 120 people that your primary focus is shelter and sleeping them, you have 120 potential clients who could receive treatment — primary health treatment, addiction treatment and mental-health supports,” he said.
More than 10 beds would be reserved for people grappling with methamphetamine addiction. Lees noted about 70 per cent of Main Street Project’s clients use meth, while 79 per cent of the people in its detox facilities report meth as the primary substance they use.
“We’re dealing with meth every day,” he said. “So, part of the Mitchell project is to build a recovery centre dedicated to meth response.”
What that means, he said, is being able to manage meth psychosis in a safe space.
Main Street Project has been lobbying Ottawa for financial assistance through the National Housing Co-Investment Fund since last March. Lees said the federal government was waiting for the province to signal it would also sign on as a funding partner.
Last week, the province approved an extra $365,900 in annual operating funding for Main Street Project — up from its current contribution of roughly $356,800 per year— to begin in 2020-21. That money will support the operation of new beds, but Lees said he wasn’t sure whether the province would also approve the shelter’s request for an additional $1.5 million in capital funding.
A provincial spokesperson said Thursday the decision on capital spending was still “pending.”
“We’re happy to support Main Street Project and their expansion with funding for 120 new beds, which offers more capacity, as well as a lot more comfort and dignity for the people using the shelter,” Justice Minister Cliff Cullen said in a prepared statement.
“It’s part of a whole government approach to improving access to mental-health and addictions services. This commitment will also help Main Street Project leverage the federal co-investment fund to support their capital expansion project.”
Lees said he hopes the province’s show of support will satisfy Ottawa’s terms. A federal spokesperson could not say Thursday whether it did, or how much the federal government is prepared to spend on the expansion.
Adam Vaughan, parliamentary secretary for Minister of Families, Children and Social Development Jean-Yves Duclos, said in an emailed statement the federal Liberals are committed to working with Main Street Project.
“It’s disappointing to see the Pallister Conservatives play politics with the lives of Manitobans,” Vaughan said late Wednesday.
“Main Street Project provides vital supports to the most vulnerable members of our community, which is why we have been working with them for over a year. The NHCF is built on the values of partnership, and we are happy that the province has finally decided to come to the table. We will continue to deliver for Manitobans, as we have done with other projects across the province.”
With provincial and federal elections in the fall, it’s unclear if any more funding commitments for Main Street Project will be announced prior to the campaign periods.
The shelter has started its own capital campaign to raise $2.5 million through private donations and has reached almost a quarter of its goal, according to its website.