A public hearing was held at The Pas Town Hall on Monday Evening regarding an application made by Manitoba Housing to use the 202 Edwards Avenue building as the new location for the Oscars Place Homeless Shelter. Harold Smith Executive Director for Northern Housing Operations was present at the meeting to discuss the plan and answer questions from the public.
A number of residents and business owners attended the hearing and at least a dozen of them did not support the idea of having a homeless shelter in the downtown area. The main reasons behind the opposition were concerns that an increased homeless population in the area could affect local businesses in the downtown region due to mischief, public intoxication and violence.
The town has also received letters of opposition from businesses saying that while they support having a homeless shelter in the community they do not approve of the proposed location. The current zoning by-law only allows for a Homeless Shelter to be in a commercial area and Manitoba Hosing cannot continue paying the lease for the shelters current location at The Pas Friendship Centre.
The Pas Mayor Jim Scott says that he does not support the application and says that a decision on what to do with the Homeless Shelter must be made before March 31st.
Scott is hoping to have the town meet with The Pas Friendship Centre, Manitoba Housing, OCN, and The RM of Kelsey to try to figure out a way to keep the homeless shelter at its current location.
Mayor and council are expected to vote on the application at the next council meeting on February 26th and Scott believes that the resolution will be defeated unanimously.