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Halifax council approves Mi’kmaw Native Friendship Centre’s housing development

The Diamond Bailey House will provide beds, housing, and programs for Indigenous people

3 min read
caption A graphic of the proposed development was shown in a presentation Tuesday night.
Mi'kmaw Native Friendship Centre

Halifax regional council unanimously approved an amendment to city planning rules Tuesday night that would allow the Mi’kmaw Native Friendship Centre to proceed with a housing development.

The plan for Diamond Bailey House calls for a three-storey building with 32 beds, 11 bedrooms, 10 bachelor units and space for programming services.

The property at 5853 College St. was formally a federal halfway house used by Correctional Service Canada. In 2019 the property was purchased by the Friendship Centre, but later a pipe burst and the resulting damage was so severe the building was set for demolition.

During a public hearing Tuesday night, Pam Glode-Desrochers, the executive director of the Friendship Centre, said the new development would be named for Diamond Nicholas and Diane Bailey, who worked with the Friendship Centre and had “given their lives to harm reduction models.”

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Raven Davis, an Indigenous person who has been homeless, said this kind of development is important as the city faces increasing issues with homelessness and affordable housing.

“The Diamond Bailey House will be a place where human dignity is restored,” Davis told councillors.

caption The building at 5853 College St. will be demolished and the Diamond Bailey House built in its place.
Nathan Horne

Lucine Toomey, a resident of the area, called in to express concerns.

“Our primary concern is safety,” said Toomey.

She asked whether there would be enough staff to manage the number of clients, whether they would have a designated smoking area and if underground parking was a part of the development.

Glode-Desrochers said that most of their clients don’t drive vehicles, that there would be a designated smoking area and permanent and transitional staff to manage clients in the house.

Councilor for the area, Waye Mason said the house “moves beyond a utilitarian design that’s going to do the job to something people will be proud of.”

In November, council approved the allocation of $8 million to developments by Adsum for Women and Children, the Mi’kmaw Native Friendship Centre, and the North End Community Health Centre.

The development must be completed by the end of the year in order to meet the qualifications for funding under the Rapid Housing Initiative.

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Nathan Horne

Nathan Horne is a journalist interested in breaking stories that highlight the inequalities and injustices in society.

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