A solid partnership will help keep the doors of P.E.I.’s sole men’s shelter open for the long haul, says the Salvation Army captain overseeing the operation.
Partnerships with municipal and provincial governments as well as other community contributors, says Capt. Jamie Locke, must be nurtured.
“I think that that will be the ultimate goal from a financial concern that we can keep the place operating and staffed at a level to offer the highest quality of assistance to our clients,’’ said Locke, who heads the Salvation Army in Charlottetown with his wife, Capt. Elaine Locke.
Jamie, who was among a packed house for the shelter’s grand opening Tuesday, says the facility has experienced no significant issues since opening Dec. 21. He attributes the smooth operation to the checks and balances the Salvation Army has in place.
“We run and govern ourselves to a very strict standard of policy and procedure,’’ he said.
The shelter opened in May 2004 in its current location on Weymouth Street.
The previous board closed the facility in 2011 after an employee at the shelter was charged with sexually assaulting a homeless man at the shelter.
A number of churches formed an ad hoc working group to work alongside the Bedford MacDonald board to reopen the shelter in late December 2011 but the facility was closed again at the end of September 2012.
The seven-bed shelter came into the hands of the Salvation Army after an Island businessman anonymously donated $200,000 to help cover repair and operational costs over the next five years.
Occupancy since reopening in December has been averaging four men each night with all seven beds full on three occasions.
Community Services and Seniors Minister Valerie Docherty calls the shelter a great initiative.
With the recent bitter cold snap in the province, Docherty says she has been thinking lately of how most Islanders are able to head home to a warm, safe place. Adequate shelter, she notes, is a “basic need.’’
Docherty adds she believes the shelter, now called The Salvation Army Bedford MacDonald House, will not only provide a warm place for homeless men but also hope.
Charlottetown Mayor Clifford Lee says the need for such a shelter in the capital city is a sad reality.
“It’s a real necessity in our community, unfortunately,’’ he said, adding the need exists to address the broader issue of poverty.
Col. Floyd Tidd, chief secretary of the Salvation Army Canada and Bermuda Territory, called the shelter a place of rest and renewal.
“It creates a sense of hope . . . of possibility and dignity,’’ he said.