CBRM Pallet Shelter Village FAQs

A follow-up to our last post answering some of the questions that we've received on the CBRM Pallet Shelter Village.

How was the site selected?

The land for the Pallet Village had to be (already) provincially owned land.

In its 2023 Municipal Planning Strategy, the CBRM did not allow for the creation of tiny home (or tiny dwelling) communities.

The CBRM can approve tiny home communities, but any privately owned land or municipally owned land where a tiny home community is contemplated has to undergo a municipal rezoning which can take between six and nine months.

The goals of this temporary/transitional housing are (1) to keep people alive through the winter months when the risk of death from exposure/weather is at its highest and (2) to identify suitable alternative affordable and supportive housing and work to transition Pallet Shelter residents into this housing.

The Open-Hearth site (northern section) was considered but covenants on this land do not allow it to be used for any kind of overnight accommodations.

New Dawn considered its own Pine Tree Park site, but this site would also be subject to the 6-9 month rezoning process.

In addition to being provincially-owned, the site needed to be:

  • flat
  • clear of any buildings
  • able to be fenced and well-lit
  • have secure and monitored access
  • ready to receive the development (not requiring any major clearing/levelling)
  • large enough to accommodate 30 units and shared facility buildings
  • in proximity to municipal services (water, sewer, power) for hook-ups
  • close to a transit stop, near to the services that are often used by future residents (foodbank, the Ally Centre, the health clinic at the Ally Centre, the YMCA, the Homeless Shelter, the library, etc.)
  • able to meet all of the Dignity Standards set out and required by the manufacturer, Pallet.

The site selected as one that could satisfy all of the above.

How will people be selected to live in the Pallet Village?

The intake process for the Pallet Shelter units will be completed by the Ally Centre. The priority for the units are those who are currently “sleeping rough” meaning that they are sleeping outdoors (in tents, in abandoned buildings, etc.).

The goals with this project are to (1) keep people alive and reduce the risk of death from exposure/weather and (2) identify suitable alternative affordable and supportive housing and work to transition Pallet Shelter residents into this housing.

We expect some of the future tenants will self-refer (they will register their interest and begin the intake process with Ally Centre staff) and some will be referred from other agencies and organizations in the community.

Future residents (regardless of how they come to the Ally Centre for intake: self-referral or referral from another agency) will be prioritized based on what is referred to as a vulnerability score. Each client receives a vulnerability score at the end of the intake process. Clients with the highest scores (who are deemed to be the most vulnerable) will be prioritized for tenancy in the new units.

If you know of someone who is sleeping rough, and would benefit from one of these units, you can direct them to the Ally Centre at 75 Prince Street, on Facebook at THE Ally Centre of Cape Breton, and via phone or e-mail at: (902) 567-1766 or [email protected].

Each Pallet shelter village mandates a zero-tolerance policy toward violence, abuse of power, threats/intimidation, sexual harassment/assault, or discrimination of any kind. Residents must be able to abide by these guidelines which are set our by the Pallet company. These are also the standards to which visitors in the Village will be held.

Are the units insulated?

Yes, the units are all insulated. The Pallets are made from a material that is similar to what is used to make and insulate mobile homes.

The Province of Nova Scotia is purchasing a model called the S2 Sleeper. Its features include:

  • Energy efficient panelized construction
  • Solid core exterior door and frame with weather stripping
  • Energy efficient windows with Low-E insulated glass
  • Integrated customizable wire shelving system
  • Interior LED lighting and 120V convenience plugs
  • Non-organic materials reducing mold, mildew, and pests
  • 120V 2750W or 240V 4500W Heater
  • Lockable lever handle and peephole
  • 8000 minimum BTU A/C unit

Are the units heated?

Yes, the units are heated with electric heat (120V 2750W or 240V 4500W heater).

This means that none of the units will need any additional heat sources and that there will be no open flames or fuel on site.

Are the units safe in case of an emergency?

The S2 Sleeper features robust fire, wind, and snow load ratings, and integrated smoke and carbon monoxide detectors.

Each shelter is equipped with a durable solid core locking front door with kick plate and peephole, along with a fire extinguisher and egress window in case of emergency.

Cabin spacing must be approved by the local fire authority, and villages operators must enforce a strict policy against smoking or open flames inside shelters.

Are there washrooms?

There will be separate onsite buildings that will house: a common eating area, washrooms, showers, laundry facilities, meeting/programming rooms, and staff/administration offices.

Although each unit won’t have its own washroom, there will be washrooms (including an accessible washroom) on site.

When will the village open?

The Province of Nova Scotia is working with service providers in multiple communities to establish multiple Pallet Shelter Villages in response to community need. The first, Sackville NS, is scheduled to begin assembly/construction in late January.

The Sydney site is expected to be ready to receive residents in late February/early March.

Do you need volunteers?

The outpouring of generosity following the announcement of the CBRM Pallet Shelter Village has been overwhelming in the most beautiful way. We’ve heard from people from all around the world who are inspired by the way that Nova Scotia and Cape Breton are taking action to provide people with safe, warm, and dignified places to stay.

We are humbled by the kind comments, words of encouragement, and many offers to volunteer with the Village set-up, with the provision of food, and anything else needed to make sure the new residents get off to a good start and are supported by their community.

At this time, we are not yet ready to bring in volunteers.

The provincial government is spearheading the purchase and set-up of the pallets and Pallet Village and will be calling on public works, Nova Scotia Lands, the CBRM, the Fire Marshall, and Nova Scotia Lands as each component (site layout, site prep, water, sewer, and power connections, Pallet and fencing construction, etc.) is planned and executed.

We will have a better sense of the best ways that volunteers can support the effort once we are post-construction and have residents all settled in.

Thank you for reaching out, commenting, calling and e-mailing. You and your generosity represent the very best of Cape Breton and are the fuel propelling this effort forward.

What does the inside of a unit look like?

We do not have pictures of the inside of the units we’ll be receiving but below are some photos of the inside of units from the Pallet Shelter website. The units are simple and include a bed and table. Each unit can house one individual.


Are any of the units accessible?

All of the units can be made accessible and there will be an accessible washroom as part of the development.

As the intake process unfolds, the service providers (New Dawn and the Ally Centre) will identify any additional requirements that users may need to make their residency safe, welcoming, and dignified and work with the province to make sure that these requirements are available when and where needed.