The Gottingen Street police station is located less than a block from the location.

UPDATE: Halifax modular units heading to Centennial Pool parking lot

The 44 units are supposed to be up and running by January, and HRM has finally announced the location.

Update: On Friday, Halifax released an update confirming the site for the Halifax modular units will be in the parking lot adjacent Centennial Pool.

It’s been over two months since Halifax first announced modular units were in the works as winter shelter for unhoused locals. In mid-November, the location for the Dartmouth units was announced as just off Alderney Drive. Those 24 units are expected to be in place and occupied by December 20.

But the site of the Halifax units, of which there are supposed to be 44 in nine separate buildings, is still under wraps.

At a community meeting in Dartmouth on Monday night, HRM’s housing and homelessness administrator Erica Fleck said the Halifax location was confirmed, but couldn’t yet be announced, because reasons.

click to enlarge After this article was published, HRM confirmed Centennial Pool will be the location and released this mock-up photo of the parking lot. - HRM
After this article was published, HRM confirmed Centennial Pool will be the location and released this mock-up photo of the parking lot.

But The Coast has information from multiple sources with inside knowledge of the project that the Halifax modular units will be installed at the Centennial Pool parking lot along Cogswell Street.

An HRM spokesperson did not respond to The Coast’s request for comment by publication time. HRM also has yet to reveal when it will announce a location, though the units are supposed to be up and running in late January. (The far-off sounding “January 2022” is now next month.)

Currently, the Centennial Pool parking lot is owned by the municipality. During The Coast’s visit to the site Wednesday, the lot is less than half full. A Halifax Transit supervisor sits in his company truck eating a sandwich on his lunch break, two women in puffy vests jog by on the path adjacent Citadel Hill that overlooks the park, and a man throws a ball for his Australian Shepherd in the dog park that’s just off the parking lot.

Inside the pool building, two women sit at the front desk, the older of whom is very quick to say “we don’t know” about what may or may not be going into the parking lot. Neither would answer further questions.

The transit supervisor also knows nothing, but suggests calling the toll-free number listed on the parking enforcement sign, for a company called RFM.

Jeanne Brown, owner of RFM, picks up. “No, gosh,” she says. “I didn’t hear that.” Brown says RFM is only contracted by the pool, so she doubts she’ll hear anything until it’s made public. “We just do vehicle immobilization there.”

click to enlarge The parking lot is currently for paying vehicle-owners only. - THE COAST
The Coast
The parking lot is currently for paying vehicle-owners only.

As a temporary housing site, the location makes sense. It’s within walking distance of services like Mainline Needle Exchange, the Salvation Army and the Mi’kmaw Native Friendship Centre.

“It’s great that that site is near downtown Halifax, it’s close to a lot of the general services people access around food needs and harm reduction and income assistance,” says Halifax Mutual Aid spokesperson Campbell McClintock of the potential location. “A lot of people who are living vulnerably and depend on those resources, many of them prefer to be in downtown Halifax. The Gray Arena”—a space in north end Dartmouth recently converted to shelter—“has been really hard for people.”

But as one People's Park volunteer points out, it’s “awfully close to the cops,” with the Gottingen Street Police Station just across the street.

McClintock agrees the proximity to the police station could be a concern, and says the occupants are “still entitled to live their lives and not have to experience increased surveillance and criminalization.”

Despite that safety concern for precariously-housed people, the Centennial Pool is located centrally with access to transit and close to downtown, and in an area many unhoused people are already familiar with.

For the immediate future, the parking lot will still be just that—a parking lot. But the new year may transform it into not just a site for modular units, but a safe place for those who currently don’t have anywhere to call home.

Edit: This article originally said RFM Parking is contracted by HRM, but the parking company is actually contracted by Centennial Pool.

About The Author

Victoria Walton

Once a freelancer, Victoria has been a full-time reporter with The Coast since April 2020, covering everything from COVID-19 to small business to politics and social justice. Originally from the Annapolis Valley, she graduated from the University of King’s College School of Journalism in 2017.

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