It’s the last day of the Examiner subscription drive.

You’ve put up with a month of solicitations at the start of every Morning File, so I’ll keep this brief.

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1. COVID update

Photo: Ethan Lycan-Lang

Here’s the latest on COVID-19 in Nova Scotia:

  • Two people have died from the virus. One, a man in his 60s who’d been living at East Cumberland Lodge nursing home in Pugwash. The other, in Health Nova Scotia’s Western Zone, was a man in his 70s.
  • At East Cumberland Lodge, a total of 32 residents and 11 staff members have tested positive for the virus. Four residents have died from it.
  • On Monday, the province announced 59 new cases of COVID-19 had been found from Friday to Sunday.
    • Northern Zone: 38
    • Central Zone: 21
  • There are now 171 known active cases of the virus in Nova Scotia.
  • There are 14 people hospitalized, four of whom are in ICU.
  • The Department of Health: “There is a new cluster of cases in a localized community in Northern Zone and there is also evidence of limited community spread in Halifax and parts of northern Nova Scotia.”

For all other COVID-related news and numbers — vaccination data, case demographics, testing sites, potential exposure advisories — read Tim Bousquet’s full update from Monday.

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2. Catholic archdiocese building shelters on church land

Photo: Archdiocese of Halifax-Yarmouth

Victoria Walton continues her excellent coverage of homelessness in Halifax with her latest article in the Coast from Tuesday.

She reports that the Archdiocese of Halifax-Yarmouth will be building 15-20 shelters at eight different churches around the city. The Archdiocese had previously offered one shelter at St. Ignatius Parish in Bedford last winter, and is now looking to expand on the success of that unit.

They’ll need to meet certain regulations when they build the shelters. When asked whether, as rumoured, HRM staff had threatened to fine churches if they built shelters on their land, project coordinator John Stevens told Walton “[HRM staff] outlined their concerns about the shelters … And did remind us that there are fines for structures that aren’t put up with the proper things in place.”

The units will be 8’x8′ and will include steel siding, pitched roofing, waterproof flooring, and a small electrical outlet for a light, heater, smoke detector, and a USB charger.

As such, each unit will cost $11,500 to build. So the church has started an online fundraising drive on its website to help fund construction.

The church is working with the city to fast-track permits for the shelters, which it hopes will be ready by December 24.

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From our subscribers:

Peggy Cameron

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After-meal digestifs may include glyphosate glow, gold tailings, or Boat Harbour belly — these are overrated and expensive! Once completed the daily moveable feast may provoke reflection — i.e., aren’t we the lucky ones to be afforded such food for thought? But don’t forget that your patronage is essential so please renew your subscription or give it as a gift, and let’s continue the nourishing fare.

Michael McCluskey, Halifax Examiner and Battlestar Galactica fan. Photo contributed

Michael McCluskey (@realfatapollo)

I wasn’t always a fan of Tim; several years of giving my mom a failing Council grade had kind of soured me on him.

I think the first time I realized that he was bringing a new perspective to the local news scene was his coverage of the Halifax Commonwealth Games bid. Tim was pretty much the only naysayer in the local media, and we all know who turned out to be right. I was a little choked as I had been the mascot at the 1994 Victoria CWGs and was hoping to extend my streak.

The Examiner fills a need in the city for truly independent journalism and advocacy. I have to say I know more about the African Nova Scotian community than I ever did because of guest contributors and stories that reveal injustice. The reporters on the Examiner masthead are not just recycling press releases and corporate ‘adver-news’ in the issues, but are working on stories that are, frankly, ignored by the rest of media.

For the price of a large donair a month, you can sponsor and support this plucky team of newshounds; think Citizen Kane with more parties and fewer sleds.

Come for the hard hitting stories and stay for Tim’s Terrific Tofu Tricks every Friday!

Ray Plourde started it. Photo @EACwilderness

Raymond Plourde

I was an early subscriber to the Halifax Examiner when it started up in 2014, having been mightily impressed by Tim Bousquet’s razor-sharp journalistic work at The Coast back in the day. For me, the Examiner is essential reading every day and is absolutely unique in the Nova Scotia media space. A hard-hitting, deep-digging “adversarial” investigative news outfit with outstanding reporters and high journalistic standards that isn’t afraid to look under the hood, ruffle some feathers, and gore a few sacred cows. You will simply not find this kind of critical, deep-dive coverage anywhere else.

I really appreciate the brilliant, unflinching political and environmental reporting and analysis, particularly the feature-length investigative reports by Joan Baxter, Jennifer Henderson, and Linda Pannozzo on how big extractive and polluting industries behave in Nova Scotia. The Examiner shines a bright light into the dark corners to reveal the real story behind the corporate spin-doctoring and bland government assurances that all is well. Behind the paywall, for subscribers only, and worth every penny.

Subscribing to the Halifax Examiner makes for a better, more informed citizenry, and I encourage everyone to support the little-website-that-could. In an increasingly fragmented and under-resourced media landscape — you’ll get no better bang for your buck than the Halifax Examiner.

Bill Turpin

The Examiner has attitude. Every community needs a credible news medium with attitude. It uses its limited resources well, going deep on stories like the Lafarge cement plant. The Covid-19 coverage is reliably pertinent. If the Lahey report is ever implemented, some of the credit will belong to The Examiner. It manages to be influential without big readership numbers because influential people care about what it says.

And, not least, I’m advised The Examiner pays its contributors fairly and on time.

Writer/editor @trcovell. Photo contributed

Tim Covell

When I moved to Nova Scotia, I quickly learned that Tim Bousquet’s columns in The Coast were a great source of reliable local investigative news. I was an early subscriber to the Examiner (initially taking advantage of, and appreciating, the low-income rate), and I am impressed by its continued growth and extent of coverage, most recently with COVID-19. The Morning File is a reliable way to catch up on local and provincial news, the curiosities are appreciated, and the columns and long-form articles are great examples of increasingly rare in-depth reporting, investigation, and analysis.


3. HRM gives update on modular housing for homeless

An overhead map view from an HRM council report showing the Dartmouth site for the new modular units.

More housing news…

Halifax Regional Municipality released an update Monday on the modular units they’re buying to house and support people living homeless in the municipality right now.

Work is already under way for the Dartmouth site, which was determined earlier in the month. Installation of the already purchased units will begin on December 3 and are expected to be completed on December 20.

The big update concerns the Halifax site. Although the update still doesn’t give a location for the modular units, it does say nine units are being secured and they will “provide capacity for 44 individuals.” When Halifax Regional Council voted November 9 to spend $3.2 million to purchase new modular units to immediately house some of the municipality’s homeless population, the Halifax location was originally supposed to have capacity for 36 people. Monday’s update says the Halifax units are expected to be completed by late January. The city first announced the plan to purchase modular homes for immediate relief back in September.

The province will be responsible for placing people in these units, and funding the Out of the Cold Community Association to provide “wrap-around” support services to residents.

As of Sunday, HRM counted nine encampments within the municipality, with 22 individuals, 49 tents, and six shelters. The update states that 11 individuals were transitioned to “alternative accommodations” from November 22 to 28.

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4. Pedestrian hit by driver in Spryfield dies from injuries

Pedestrian push button and crosswalk flags at the corner of Isleville and Kaye. Photo: Philip Moscovitch

Another pedestrian — the second in less than a week’s time — has died after being struck by a vehicle.

Halifax Regional Police issued a media release late Monday morning saying a 67-year-old man who’d been struck by a vehicle driven by a 65-year-old man in Spryfield on November 26 has died from his injuries. The accident occurred Friday evening around 5:45 pm HRP say they don’t anticipate charges will be laid against the driver.

Last Wednesday, 27-year-old Suete Chan was struck and killed by a driver while she crossed Pleasant Street in Dartmouth. She would have turned 28 on Friday.

Jennifer Henderson reported on that death last week, finding that charges hadn’t been laid against motorists who’d struck and killed pedestrians at crosswalks in HRM over the last two years . In that piece, Henderson wrote:

No, I do not understand.
Yes, pedestrians need to establish eye contact with drivers before they cross and at this very dark time of year, use the light from a cellphone, or reflective tape on their clothing so drivers can actually see them. Visibility IS a problem but people crossing in crosswalks have legal right of way. Please no more “statistics” called “pedestrian fatalities.”
Drive safe and look out for each other out there.

Views

1. Ethan doesn’t have Twitter game

Yesterday, fellow writer Leslie Amminson brought this to my attention:

Photo: @BigJMcC/Twitter

Look closer:

Photo: @BigJMcC/Twitter

Called out. On the very place a Twitterless idiot like me would be least likely to get the message.

But what’s done in the dark will be brought offline, as they say. And so it eventually came to my attention.

And what can I say, @BigJMcC ? It’s a fair question. When will I get my Twitter game on? I’m both a millennial and a journalist. I should probably be a bit more connected. I used to be.

The last time I had an account was April 2020. I deleted it when the COVID pandemic hit. I’d only been signed up a year. And I’d only done that because it was mandatory for King’s journalism students. I only Tweeted to promote my stories. And I only scrolled the feed for story ideas and contacts whose numbers and emails I couldn’t find.

I wasn’t always like that, though.

Before I went back to school at King’s, I had it for a couple years, starting in high school. I tweeted steadily, if not frequently. I tweeted at friends and celebrities. I followed joke and parody accounts that were consistently hilarious. I got my news from the trending bar.

I found out about the Boston Marathon bombing and the 2014 Moncton shootings as they happened, following the uncertainty and confusion in real time. Those two events are actually the most specific things I remember seeing when I was really active on Twitter.

Outside that, just vague, abstract impressions. Endless scrolling. Crafting witty tweets in class and checking to see how many retweets and likes they got.

I remember enjoying a lot of it. People got really creative with 140 characters. (I wouldn’t see 280 characters until I had to create my new account for school).

But it was a mental drain. An aid in procrastination. And I stopped having fun tweeting out little silly opinions, like how Perrier takes a good, free thing like water, and through the power of bubbles, makes it a bad thing you have to pay for. And I didn’t have as much fun reading similar opinions. Plus, I started to get exhausted after I’d scroll through anything about politics or disaster.

More than anything though, it was more of a distraction than a tool. It took a lot of my time.

So, I quit.

I don’t miss my account at all. And I don’t imagine anyone else misses it either.

Professionally, though, I’ve debated a few times whether I should get back on. In this field, Twitter is an invaluable resource. Seeing trends and news develop immediately. Having a massive bank of source contacts a DM away. Being able to promote your work and pose questions to a broad audience. Most journalists would tell you it’s not an option. It’s a necessity.

Still, when I deleted my account after graduating, it was a relief. Even as I accepted it could mean torpedoing my career. Or at least, making it a harder go. It really is a useful tool. And I knew most employers would expect me to have it, and I might get passed over for a steady job because of it. It helps to be social media savvy in news. No doubt, it’d be easier to find stories if I had it.

But I like life without it. I don’t know if it’s possible to be a Twitterless journalist. But the great experiment continues, to the undeniable benefit of my mental and physical health.

Can I keep it up? I’ve recently had to reactivate my Facebook account for work. It’s the only way to stay up to date with certain groups. But I’ve unfollowed all my friends — sorry Mom — so that all that comes across my newsfeed are updates from groups I follow for work. It’s not too bad. I’m not tempted to scroll for hours through baby pictures, engagement announcements, and empty, angry political ramblings. I’m able to stay off it outside work.

Twitter would be harder to curate that way. I’d rather stay away.

Hell, the CEO of Twitter is stepping aside. Trump’s been banned for almost a year now, and Jack Dorsey still can’t stick with the platform. Why should I get back onboard when the captain himself is jumping ship?

I’m happy to be off it while I can. And I still hear and read about plenty of things that make me angry or make me laugh. I’m not missing it all.

I did miss out on every development from 2021 in the Taylor Swift saga. I really fell out of the loop there. Luckily, I have a younger sister, and she recently filled me in. I can go on without my account.

Let me conclude by answering @BigJMcC’s original question:

When will I get my Twitter game on? When an employer forces me to, I suppose.

Until then, follow and retweet @HfxExaminer. They tweet out better content than anything I’d come up with anyway.

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2. November is, mercifully, ending

The view from my front porch this morning: the last gasp of a miserable November. Photo: Ethan Lycan-Lang

The Examiner subscription drive is ending, Americans are making Turkey sandwiches, and the Christmas season is on its way.

November must be on its way out.

Thanks goodness.

It’s not my least favourite month of the year. That’s March for me. But it’s nowhere near the top of the list. Existing in that awful limbo between the splendor of fall’s prime and the warmth of the holiday season, November in Nova Scotia can be a tough 30 days to ride out. The rain we’ve seen these past few weeks is a good example why so many hate this time of year.

When I was stuck inside during the big rainstorm last week, I did some googling to try to find some comfort. I searched for tributes, odes, and essays dedicated to November. “Someone must enjoy this month,” I thought. “Someone has to have written an inspiring essay about what makes November special. Someone can change my perspective.”

Maybe they could help me see its inner beauty. Or give me tips on how to cope with the freezing rain and apocalyptic-looking barren trees that this month brings.

No such luck.

The best I found was a 2016 Narcity article listing “15 Awesome Things to Do in Halifax This November.” Top of the list that year: going to see Our Lady Peace at the (former) Metro Centre. Not really a November-specific activity, but what is?

I also found a USA Today article from 2018 — written by a staffer at a company specializing in sponsored content — that gave tips on “Places to Go in the Month of November in Canada.” Nowhere in Atlantic Canada made the list. Presumably because November out east is as unpleasant for tourists as it is for residents. The article just lists a few activities you can do in cities like Ottawa and Vancouver. There are two general upsides to November in Canada, according to the piece:

Be prepared for rain, but the good news is that daytime temperatures aren’t as cold as they will become in mid-winter. November is the window before holiday prices kick in, so enjoy Canada on sale during the off-season.

I’m amazed they found two.

Since I couldn’t find an adequate survival guide to November online, I’ll just leave my own list of “Awesome Things to Do in Halifax in November” here. Use it next year and hopefully you’ll make it to the Yuletide faster and happier:

  • Polish and spray your Blundstones to prepare them for the coming onslaught of salt. Take care of them during the cold and wet, and they’ll do the same for you.
  • Make the most of the extra hour of sleep you’ll gain. In return, lose the evening sun for three months. But don’t be sad. Halifax is a city that’s meant to be felt, not seen. Sunlight in the late morning and early afternoon is more than enough. Anything else is excessive.
  • Did you get sad anyway? Go to the Central Library, pick up a travel guide for Bermuda, and bask in the warm glow of a light therapy lamp. Repeat this a few times and you’ll be as far away from seasonal depression as you are from the Caribbean.
  • People-watch on Agricola. Try to guess how many men are raising money for Movember and how many just live in the North End.
  • Try to learn the Halifax Transit route adjustments so you don’t wait in the cold November rain for a bus that’s never going to come.
  • Take the ferry to Dartmouth. Enjoy the salt, spray, and wind whipping in your face on deck, or go below for some mild seasickness. Try not to think about how the witch of November took down the Edmund Fitzgerald.
  • Once you’re in Dartmouth, go see the geese at Sullivan’s Pond. Cry for them when you find out they’re too big to migrate south and are stuck in this province, like everyone else, for the entirety of November. Like you, they must stay put and seek refuge from the cold. Coming to a better understanding of why they might be so hostile and aggressive, you tell them about your newfound empathy. They attack you.
  • Take in the first snow of the season. Enjoy it for two minutes. Then realize it’s too warm to skate or ski, but also too cold to enjoy life.
  • Sit inside and wait for the holidays to start.

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Noticed

Dogs are having a tough pandemic too, apparently

My painting of my friend’s border collie when he was a puppy. She picked him up in October 2020, about four months into the pandemic. Photo: Ethan Lycan-Lang

The Guardian has this article this week (this one from Australia), on the growing prevalence of “pandemic puppies,” dogs who’ve become used to their owners being around all the time through COVID, who are now experiencing separation anxiety as the world opens back up and people leave their pets at home for the day.

The article, written by Caitlin Cassidy, says these incredibly dependent “pandemic puppies” are leading to a “spike in demand for health and wellness products for pets.”

“In the past year,” she writes, “$269.8m was spent [in Australia] on alternative health treatments for dogs, including acupuncture and massage. Now, anxiety and calming products such as ‘relax care’ treats, home diffusers, on-the-go collars, and ‘thundershirts’ are flooding the market.”

The article goes on to say post-pandemic life could be a tough transition for pets and owners:

[Dramatic] changes in routine post-lockdowns could be “stressful” or “confusing” for dogs not accustomed to being left alone, particularly for puppies purchased during the pandemic.

Has anyone noticed this in their dogs?

My friend bought a border collie last fall and she often brings him over for visits. He’s a little over a year old now, but he still whines and barks — piercingly loud — any time she steps out the door and leaves him. Even if she steps out for 10 seconds to get something from her car.

Maybe this pandemic’s conditioned him. I never really thought about it until I read this article.

It can’t be easy being a pandemic puppy, though I don’t feel too badly for the life of most pets living the domesticated life. It’s still a pretty sweet deal.

I know it’s not easy taking care of a pandemic puppy. Last week, during a particularly bad episode, my friend dropped off her border collie and he wouldn’t stop barking. We were having our piano fixed, and the hammers had been removed from the body and taken to a shop for repairs. The hollowed out instrument turned out to be an ungodly amplifier for his yelping.

I still love the guy, but I might have to start using some of the helpful tips in this article to ease his transition into independent dog life.

Tips include staying calm and quiet when you leave the house or come home, showing it’s not a big deal that you’re coming or going; keeping a consistent schedule for departures, arrivals, feedings, and walks; providing plenty of distracting toys and treats for the dog to play with on their own.

I honestly am curious if anyone’s noticed their dogs becoming more anxious about separation? Should we be concerned about this generation of canines?

Or is my friend’s dog just soft?

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Government

City

Tuesday

Public Information Meeting – Case 23824 (Tuesday, 6pm) — virtual meeting; application by Harvey Architecture on behalf of Northwoodcare Bedford Incorporated to amend an existing Development Agreement to allow a pedway bridge to connect the buildings located at 123 and 185 Gary Martin Drive, Bedford.

Wednesday

Design Review Committee (Wednesday, 4:30pm) — livestreamed

Province

No meetings


On campus

Dalhousie

Tuesday

The Social Shift Movie Screening (Tuesday, 5:30pm) — via Teams

People, Places and Things (Tuesday, 7:30pm, Dunn Theatre) — presented by the Fountain School of Performing Arts, until Dec. 4; $15/$10, more info here

Wednesday

People, Places and Things (Wednesday, 7:30pm, Dunn Theatre) — presented by the Fountain School of Performing Arts, until Dec. 4; $15/$10, more info here

KI’KWA’JU: Reimagining Prokofiev’s Peter & the Wolf (Wednesday, 7:30pm, Rebecca Cohn Auditorium) — presented by the Fountain School of Performing Arts; $15/$10; more info here

In Ki’kwa’ju, we seek to tell a new story about our relationships to the land, to one another, and to the hard work of reconciliation. This concert presents a full performance of Prokofiev’s score, with a narrated story that moves events to our region in Mi’kma’ki. The Dal Symphony Orchestra is joined by Mi’kmaw artists and storytellers, and the program includes traditional Mi’kmaq singing, dancing, and storytelling. We premiere a composition that draws together Prokofiev’s music with traditional Mi’kmaw instruments and melodies. The evening concludes with “talk back” discussion with the artists, in which audience members will learn about netukulimk, the Mi’kmaq concept of balance between the natural and human worlds.


In the harbour

Halifax
06:00: Morning Lucy, car carrier, moves from Pier 31 to Autoport
06:30: Oceanex Sanderling, ro-ro container, arrives at Pier 41 from St. John’s
08:00: BBC Direction, bulker, sails from Pier 9 for sea
11:00: Tropic Hope, container ship, sails from Pier 42 for Palm Beach, Florida
13:00: CSL Tacoma, bulker, sails from Gold Bond for sea
15:30: Morning Lucy sails for sea
15:30: MSC Silvana, container ship, arrives at Pier 42 from Sines, Portugal

Cape Breton
07:00: Nordtulip, oil tanker, sails from Point Tupper for sea
08:00: Ionic Anax, oil tanker, moves from anchorage to Point Tupper
14:30: Inthira Naree, bulker, moves from Aulds Cove quarry to anchorage


Footnotes

  • I still comb through Twitter sometimes to find things when I’m working, I admit. I don’t do any extracurricular scrolling though, and nothing I read has ever tempted me to reactivate my account.
  • Hey, it’s St. Andrew’s Day. I’m not one of those North Americans who hangs onto the heritage of my great grandparents’ home country. I’ve never even been there. But I suppose, as a Lang, I can at least put in the bare minimum to mark today’s date. To honour the day, here’s the prettiest Scottish song there is (shove it, Loch Lomond). Enjoy it before Christmas music completely takes over tomorrow.

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Ethan Lycan-Lang

Ethan Lycan-Lang is a Morning File regular, and also writes about environmental issues, poverty, justice, and the rights of the unhoused. He's currently on hiatus in the Yukon, writing for the Whitehorse...

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8 Comments

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  1. Great work Ethan.

    Good for the Church to be really helping out. All our Faith Communities should be doing as much as we can.

    Stay true to your Twitterless self.

  2. “It was November—the month of crimson sunsets, parting birds, deep, sad hymns of the sea, passionate wind-songs in the pines. Anne roamed through the pineland alleys in the park and, as she said, let that great sweeping wind blow the fogs out of her soul.” LM Montgomery, Anne of the Island

    The park in the quote is based on Point Pleasant. LM Montgomery lived in Halifax for several periods and most of Anne of the Island actually occurs in “Kingsport”, her fictionalized version of Halifax.

    We could probably all use a little soul defogging after the last year or so.

  3. I was at the meeting with Sam Austin last night regarding the modular homes being put up in the parking lot of Church and Alderney. Most people who spoke were upset at the lack of consultation before the decision was announced, which Erica Fleck and Sam Austin said was due to modular homes needing a space on city-owned property. Anger also arose after the “temporary” housing was confirmed to be a 3-5 year plan.

    It was an entirely predictable outcome – most residents feigned concern about “these people,” followed by a strong BUT (not in my backyard). They were all concerned about safety, walking alone at night, etc., lest they be spoken to or approached by a homeless person. I don’t want to play down legitimate safety concerns or experiences faced by anyone, however, first I want to see the statistics from a source that is not HRP that shows some correlation between homeless people and crime.

    There were a few people who spoke up in favour of not being terrified of people you don’t know, and the good folks from Out of the Cold did their best to convince a skeptical crowd that their de-escalation training and familiarity with the local homeless population means there will be supports in place. Many of the people at this meeting who expressed fear of having to live in proximity to people with mental health, addiction and financial issues also posted black squares on social media last year. Then they asked what to do if they call the police when they feel threatened by the people living in these modular units and the police don’t arrive quickly. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯¯

    1. The waterfront is an awful location. One of the coldest,windiest places in Dartmouth and next to a CN diesel engine than runs 24/7. The empty lot at 1 King Street has been vacant since it was expropriated by the City of Dartmouth on March 31 1978 for ‘waterfront development’ and HRM has spent years trying to find a developer. The location is not open to cold NW winds.

      1. For sure, I’m not sure the best way to determine where to place modular housing for 3-5 years on city property – there might have been better locations other than a parking lot. But the residents who expressed concerns about the location weren’t worried about the people living in the lot – they were worried about themselves.

    2. I live in Dartmouth North, very close to Gray’s Arena where a number of people have been staying since late September. I have attended two meetings in my neighborhood and have heard similar comments. I find it very disheartening that so many refer to their neighbors (which is what anyone living in your neighborhood should be called) as “those people” and hold the belief that they will commit criminal acts and/or act out whether because of addictions or mental health issues. I may be in the minority, but I am not a NIMBY. I’m an YIMBY (yes, in my back yard)! Having places for those who need them arrive in your area means that the needed services will also arrive in your area. I would love to see Gray’s Arena be redeveloped into a permanent shelter for those needing it. I know that I would benefit from having additional resources in my community. Looking around just my own apartment building, I can state with certainty that there are people with all the issues mentioned (financial, addiction, and mental health) already living near all of us. Reach out and help those around you. Someday, you may be the one needing the help.

      1. I couldn’t attend last night’s meeting but as a nearby resident on Shore Road, I want this say I am fully supportive of the plan. “Those people” have been living rough among us for quite some time and I’ve never felt threatened by them on my frequent walks in the area. And the winds won’t be half as bad in proper shelters as they have been in the existing huts and tents!