Our Project

New Dawn and the Ally Centre have proposed a 24-unit safe, affordable, staffed supporting housing project for a diverse array of Ally Centre Clients - those most at risk of homelessness in the CBRM. Read more about the proposal here.

Our Goal

Modern, dignified, beautiful housing for vulnerable populations –  where they can live safely, in community, with staff, supports, and counselling on site to aid in their rebuilding of healthy, safe, whole lives and relationships.

Our Values







Our Housing Model

24 new affordable, accessible, dignified apartments in walking distance to services and community amenities.

24-7 onsite staffing 365 days a year to provide supports, services, programming, and resources.

Highly energy efficient new construction built around solar energy generation to eliminate any new impacts on climate (net zero).

Modular construction (manufactured in Trenton, Nova Scotia) to ensure a rapid, cost-effective, durable, and well-designed build by Dora Construction – a well-versed, community-oriented builder who has completed multiple RHI projects in Nova Scotia in the last three years.

Privacy, security, community.

The Proponents: New Dawn and The Ally Centre

New Dawn Enterprises: since 1976, New Dawn has worked to build a more vibrant and self-reliant community.

Today, New Dawn’s services include: housing, homecare, meals on wheels, affordable arts and meeting space, immigration settlement services, and residence and care for adults with physical and intellectual disabilities.

They own and operate the award-winning Eltuek Arts Centre, serve 20,000 meals each year to seniors in our community, own and operate the Island’s largest and only nationally-accredited private home care agency, provided settlement services to 1500 newcomers and international students in 2022, created – with the community – the Supported Housing for Individuals with Mental Illness (SHIMI) program in 2004 and today manage 27 units of supportive housing for individuals living with and recovering from mental illness and addictions.

New Dawn is a non-profit organization overseen by a volunteer board of directors.

The Ally Centre of Cape Breton has been on the frontline of serving our most vulnerable populations in Cape Breton since 1985. They are a community-based, Cape Breton-focused, nationally recognized organization.

The Ally Centre of Cape Breton is a non-profit organization whose main objectives are to employ education/prevention strategies that prevent the spread of blood borne pathogens and sexually transmitted infections, and to create supportive environments that diminish risk.

Using a harm reduction philosophy and a community development approach, we encourage citizens to engage in healthy practices, creating healthy communities across Cape Breton Island.

Our Partnership

This project is built on the long-standing CBRM-based skills and knowledge of the two proponents.

Drawing on its expertise, the Ally Centre will design and deliver the wrap-around services and staffing for the project and its clients.

The model includes (a) staff on site 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year and (b) staff who are specialized in supporting people as they rebuild their lives and connect with employment, education, mental health counselling, recreation, family, etc.

Drawing on its expertise, New Dawn will build and manage the new units and serve as landlord.

Who Will this Serve?

All units must be dedicated to people and populations that are vulnerable, and in severe housing need including:

  • People dealing with mental health and addiction issues
  • People experiencing or at risk of homelessness
  • Racialized groups, including Black Canadians
  • Recent immigrants, especially refugees
  • Women and children fleeing violence
  • People with disabilities
  • Indigenous peoples
  • Young adults
  • Veterans
  • Seniors

We have structured a project that will serve SEVEN. As outlined in our January 2023 submission to CBRM (page 11), this project will serve:

  • Young adults
  • Indigenous Peoples
  • People with disabilities
  • People dealing with mental health and addictions issues
  • Racialized groups, including Black Canadians
  • People experiencing homelessness
  • Women
  • LGBTQ2+

Our Proposal

The CBRM Request for Expressions of Interest was released in early January, and applications were due January 26, 2023. We worked with our contractor, the province, and the CBRM planning department over the next three weeks to ensure that our submission met all of the funding requirements.

We were delighted to learn for the first time at the March 7th Council meeting that we had met all of the minimum requirements.

We were disappointed to learn that it was rejected, against the advice of CBRM staff who had evaluated all of the proposals over the previous six weeks.

What Do We Know About Harm Reduction Housing?

“When asked what they thought were the most effective services they provided, almost all the agency key informants identified housing. Housing provided the safety and security that made it possible for people to begin to reduce their substance use. Housing also provided a base for the residents to form friendships, get to know themselves, develop and establish their own networks, and become connected to the community.”

Homelessness, Housing, and Harm Reduction: Stable Housing for Homeless People with Substance Use Issues (CMHC and the Social Planning and Research Council of British Columbia, 2005)

“A harm reduction approach combined with supportive housing can be an effective way to address the needs of homeless people who are dealing with substance use issues.

Effective treatment for homeless people with substance use issues requires comprehensive, highly integrated, and client-centred services, as well as stable housing. Housing is essential both during and following treatment.”

Homelessness, Housing, and Harm Reduction: Stable Housing for Homeless People with Substance Use Issues (CMHC and the Social Planning and Research Council of British Columbia, 2005)

“All participants reported that their clients have undergone positive changes since becoming involved in the project. The most frequent changes noted were around housing stabilisation, substance use, physical and mental health, and income. They also reported that some of their clients were participating in employment training, while others had returned to school. In addition, some clients were able to develop social networks and/or re-establish contact with their families.”

Homelessness, Housing, and Harm Reduction: Stable Housing for Homeless People with Substance Use Issues (CMHC and the Social Planning and Research Council of British Columbia, 2005)

Why Isn't It Mixed Income Housing?

New Dawn and the Ally Centre are strong advocates of mixed-income housing. New Dawn today provides mixed-income housing. When we set about developing this proposal, New Dawn and the Ally Centre contacted organizations from across the country that serve similar vulnerable populations and sought their advice on how best to structure the building design and staffing model.

Harm-reduction housing is different from supportive housing which is different from affordable housing. While it may be best practice for affordable and supportive housing to be dispersed throughout the community, it is not the best practice for harm-reduction housing.

Dispersing units throughout the community would make the staffing and housing supports model we have proposed impossible. We were cautioned by other groups providing similar housing against dispersing the housing throughout the community.

RHI funding can only be used to build units for specific vulnerable populations and all units must meet CMHC’s definition of affordability. This means the funding can’t be used to build a mixed-income project.

What is the Location?

In the summer and fall of 2022, the CBRM Planning Department and New Dawn explored two tracts of CBRM-owned surplus land to determine if they would be a good fit for a project of this nature. The first of these was a property on Vulcan Avenue in Sydney, the second was a property in the community of Whitney Pier.

Although the Vulcan Street land was ideal, it was later determined that it was required for another use. We didn’t feel that the Whitney Pier land was a good fit, in part because it was not close to service providers who tend to be concentrated in the downtown.

New Dawn and the Ally Centre are exploring multiple potential locations, including Stuart Street and three tracts of land in/near downtown Sydney. The ideal location: (1) ensures easy access to community amenities like grocery stores, pharmacies, recreation facilities, and public transit and (2) is in walking and/or reasonable public transit distance to the downtown where we have a concentration of services for vulnerable populations.


For more information on the proposed project, please e-mail [email protected]