People in need are camping outside The Lighthouse while beds inside sit empty.
Those seeking shelter are being turned away due to provincial funding cuts announced in September.
“It’s terrible, and it’s kind of embarrassing. It completely discredits everything that I’m trying to do,” frontline manager Leanne McIntyre told 650 CKOM Tuesday.
McIntyre said the people being turned away are receiving funding to live somewhere else, but if they’re intoxicated they can’t go to those homes.
“I want to help whoever I can help and I want to be able to support and encourage them,” she said.
“But I can’t do that because it becomes about money.”
The provincial cuts were aimed at the Lighthouse stabilization unit: a 20-bed dorm that houses intoxicated people who do not pose a security risk and who are not in need of medical attention.
It began as a pilot project in 2013, and was hailed a success for helping divert people away from police cells, emergency rooms and the health region’s Brief Detox Unit, a 12-bed facility where intoxicated people can be monitored by a paramedic for up to 12 hours.
However, a provincial funding review found only five people who used the stabilization unit over the last year went on to make the transition to stable housing.
With rain, snow and cooler temperatures in the forecast, McIntyre isn’t sure she can let people sleep right outside the doors. She’s considering letting them in, despite not having the money.
“At the end of the day, they just want to go to bed like me or you,” she said.