Winnipeg city council shelves proposal to dismantle bus shelters, looks for new idea

A motion to dismantle Winnipeg bus shelters is not moving forward after it was replaced with a new idea at city hall Thursday.

The original motion brought to city council by Councilor Shawn Nason was shelved Thursday. It asked the city to remove the glass from two bus shelters in Transcona.

Kris Clemens with End Homelessness Winnipeg told CTV News she is encouraged the motion did not move forward.

“Especially to see some of the councilors who had voted for this motion at committees have a bit of a change of heart,” said Clemens.

After public hearing outcry from several advocate organizations, an emotional Nason backed away from his original motion and said it is about the people.

“There’s people in very difficult circumstances on our streets. We see it day in and day out. It’s not hidden homeless – it’s in our face,” he said in tears at City Hall on Thursday.

A new resolution by Councilor Sherri Rollins, seconded by Nason, instead addresses six recommendations put forward by community partners in response to the original bus shelter motion.

Rollins said it is important to listen to what organizations helping unsheltered Winnipeggers have to say.

“It’s that housing first and harm reduction, wrap around supports is what most needed to alleviate that,” she said.

The new motion asks the city to explore options for 150 new low barrier transitional housing spaces, which will need funding and a location.

“This step to create 150 units of transitional housing in the short-term compliments those efforts that are already underway and it could give our community the extra boost it needs to really support those who need it most,” said Clemens.

Advocates point to efforts like the 24/7 winter warming safe space on Disraeli Freeway called N’Dinawemak, which is still open now even though it’s summer.

Cora Morgan, the First Nations family advocate with the Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs, said even with this space, there is not enough room for the number of unsheltered people in Winnipeg. That is leading people to encampments or bus shelters instead.

“To take away bus shelters is not a good reaction,” she said.

Morgan added that longer-term funding for safe spaces like N’Dinawemak could help address the immediate need and provide a place where people are treated with respect and feel welcome to tell their truth.

“People need that. It’s not about just housing people, it’s helping them have value for life and have dreams and acknowledging who they are and what their gifts and talents are.”

N’Dinawemak only has funding to keep the doors open until October 31, said Morgan.

The new motion will come to city council again in July.

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