Pine Tree Park Pallet Village Questions

Below are some answers to questions received since the announcement of Pine Tree Park as the location for the CBRM Pallet Village.

What will the Pallet Village at Pine Tree Park be comprised of?

The Village at Pine Tree Park will be comprised of 30-35 individual dwelling units and one large, accessible, programming-communal building. The large, shared building will include ten individual washrooms with showers. Two of these ten will be accessible. It will also include staff offices, two washing machines and two dryers, a staff washroom, three clinical meeting rooms, a large programming-social space, and a kitchen.   

At Pine Tree Park, rather than purchasing and bringing in a new modular programming-communal building, we are able to repurpose an existing, but unused building (one of the former welding college buildings) to serve this purpose. One of the two buildings will be gutted and renovated inside. Both buildings will get an exterior face lift (coat of paint, roof, exterior lighting). We’re big fans of reusing existing buildings for new purposes and know this is a more environmentally friendly approach when possible. Work on this renovation is underway now.  

Residents at the Village at Pine Tree Park are not permitted to have visitors on site, so staffing ratios are being planned for the presence of 35 residents.  

When will the Village open?

We expect the Village to be open mid-July, though we do not yet have a precise date. As renovations get underway and plans for electrical connections to the individual units are finalized, we’ll be able to share an anticipated date for opening.  

Will there be security?

We are committed to having security for as long as it is needed. We have had to bring security to the site much sooner than anticipated in response to the disruptions and harassment initiated by a small group of protestors. Security will remain in place for months to come.

In mid-May, they will transition to a 24-7 presence and this will be their schedule through the opening of the Village until the early fall, at which time we will have two months of Village operations to analyze and will reassess how much security is needed to continue to ensure that everyone who lives and works at Pine Tree is able to live and work, come and go, spend time inside and outside peacefully and with feelings of safety and confidence.  

We have been working with Sentry Security and are happy with their responsiveness and their professionalism throughout their time at Pine Tree.  

We want to balance having security onsite with ease of arrivals and departures for those living and working at Pine Tree. We want security to be there to maintain order and ensure that those who have been removed for disruption and harassment are not able to return, but we also don’t want it to become a burden to tenants, residents, and staff.

If you have suggestions on improvements that can be made in this regard, please let us know.  

Will there be site sweeps/clean-up of the whole property?

As part of the operations of the Village, we have built in and budgeted for regular site clean-up that involves a team sweeping all of Pine Tree Park to ensure that all debris is being picked up in a timely fashion.  

Residents will spend the vast majority of their time in the Village itself and it is unlikely that any debris will make its way outside the Village (both staff and Village residents aspire to be good neighbours). This is an additional measure meant to provide the utmost assurances of safety for all.  

Sweeps will happen daily and will include all of the cleared and mowed areas of Pine Tree, outlined in the image below. 

We are still working to finalize a contract with the specialized service provider for this work and will share the name of the service provider as soon as we can – well in advance of the Village opening.  

Those doing the sweeps will document and track what they find and where they find it so that we can discourage/redirect activity leading to debris.  

Of note, in our own spring survey of the property this year, we identified debris that suggests considerable gathering/partying on certain parts of the property, including 20 needles. We’ve also heard from some tenants at Pine Tree Park about current suspicious late night vehicle activity on parts of the property.

Efforts now underway to clean up, enhance lighting, add thoughtfully located security cameras (to monitor street traffic without infringing on tenant privacy and enjoyment), bring new positive activity to the site, and bring additional 24-7 staff to the site will work to deter all activities that shouldn’t be taking place at Pine Tree.

What services will there be for Village residents at Pine Tree?

A Pallet Village cannot be set-up without wrap-around support services and 24-7 staff. The Village at Pine Tree has both. There will be staff on site 24-7 and during the daytime, there will be services and programming that include mental health and addictions counselling, housing support (residents are required to participate in this to ensure that they secure suitable permanent housing as soon as possible), employment training, recreational activities (art, gardening, yoga), medical care, and the provision of hot nutritional meals seven days a week from New Dawn Meals on Wheels.  

New Dawn Meals on Wheels is provided with $7 per person per meal to provide a hot, fresh, filling and nutritious meal. This $7 has to cover the costs of food and labour and with the cost of food, this will not be a simple undertaking.  

Village residents will have everything they need in the Village to be able to take the next steps in building or rebuilding full and healthy lives. For many, for the first time in a long time they will have an actual street address and mailing address – two very important tools needed to secure employment, healthcare, government assistance, correspondence with family and friends, bank accounts, and so many other of the building blocks of a strong and healthy life.


Some of the circulating misinformation has indicated that there will be a safe injection site at the Village. There will not be. The only safe injection site is located downtown at the Ally Centre. The Ally Centre is not leaving the downtown. The downtown is their home and is a place that works well for their staff, clients, and organization.  

There will likewise not be “free drugs.” There are no “free drugs” at the Ally Centre downtown site and there will be none at the Village. There is no Safe Supply program in place in Cape Breton.

A Safe Supply program – which exists in other parts of the country – provides a specific amount of safely manufactured substance to individuals with substance use disorder (addiction) under the direction of a physician in an effort to decrease or prevent drug overdose and death from toxic street drugs. A program like this is not part of and will not be part of the Village. It is not part of the Ally Centre. It does not exist in Cape Breton.  

Once staff are hired for the Village, we will either bring staff around to meet each Pine Tree Park tenant or have a few drop-ins. We want all current tenants to know all of the staff and managers of the Village by name and to see them. As part of this, we will provide key names and contact phone numbers and will have a staff ID system (name tags with photos), so Pine Tree tenants always know who staff are, and how to find them.

What if I live at Pine Tree Park and I don’t agree with the idea of the Village?

That’s okay!! Just like everything in life, there are a natural range and difference of opinions on this project, especially given that it is brand new to the CBRM. 

The Residential Tenancies Act (RTA) in Nova Scotia (a copy of which you would have received with your lease) lays out very specific grounds on which someone in Nova Scotia can be evicted. Raising concerns or taking part in protests is not grounds for eviction. 

We are happy at Pine Tree Park to provide a range of housing now, and into the future, for a diversity of community members. We have no interest in the political (or other) views of any of our tenants at any of our properties. We just like providing places for folks to live.  

Please continue to share your questions, concerns, and suggestions with us in whatever way you feel most comfortable. Like participating in protests, raising concerns or questions cannot be grounds for ending a tenancy in Nova Scotia. Your rights to do so are protected in the Residential Tenancies Act. 

Will there be a Community Liaison Committee?

As was proposed with the Railroad St site, yes! We would like to create a Community Liaison Committee of residents and tenants at Pine Tree. Thank you to those who have already added their name to the Committee list. Our aim is to hold our first meeting around the middle of June.  

The purpose of this Committee is to share what Committee members are seeing and experiencing day-to-day with management at New Dawn and the Ally Centre and to advise on additional measures that will help everyone to live together well and with good mutual respect and understanding. 

This Committee is both voluntary (no one has to take part) and open to anyone who lives or works at Pine Tree and would like to join. We hope in time it can become a place where we can start to talk about how to build relationships with those living and working in the Village. 

If you live at Pine Tree and would like to join the Committee, please send your name and contact information (with Pine Tree Committee in the subject line) to [email protected] 

The Village, which will be staffed 24-7, will be well-run and that there are a number of policies being put in place to ensure this. The Committee is a way for us to stay better connected and communicating after the Village is open and operational. 

In addition to the Committee, we have created an e-mail address to which suggestions, questions, concerns, complaints, recommendations can be sent. All e-mails sent to this address will be shared with the Committee so that the Committee can review them and make a plan to address and respond to them in communication and partnership with New Dawn and the Ally Centre. This e-mail address is [email protected] 

Weren’t these supposed to be for the winter?

Absolutely. We wish we could have had the Village open in early March as first planned. A few things:  

No one should have to live in a tent at any time of the year. Extreme weather also (and increasingly) occurs in the summer and fall months. Each unit will have its own AC and is part of preventing illness, injury and death related to extreme heat.  

Where the Village is equally about shelter and services, getting people to a safe, stable, lockable, private place to live and sleep, where they can also access a range of services to help them get fully back on their feet is valuable in every season and is what stands to be transformative about this project.  

The number of individuals in the CBRM who are living in tents, cars, abandoned buildings or other very unsafe settings is increasing. The Village will be ready this summer as a safe, supportive, temporary, transitional option and, despite the delays we’ve experienced, is still a good and relatively quick option to address a need right now.  

We expect that many individuals who move into the Village will transition to the permanent housing, Eleanor’s Court, being built on Charlotte Street in the Northend of Sydney that will open in late 2024/early 2025. Some won’t. They might prefer an apartment in Glace Bay, or Ashby, or Whitney Pier. They might not need or want the high level and kinds of services that are provided at Eleanor’s Court. Their goal may be to reunite with their family, move back into their family home, etc. 

Do people have to be sober to move in? If not, why not?

Pallet Shelters are a “housing first” project. They are built on more than a decade of research (the largest research study in the world on housing first was conducted in Canada) that confirms that better outcomes can be achieved if people are first provided housing and then supported to work through whatever other challenges may exist in their lives.  

This approach (1) keeps people alive so they can address challenges – like addiction – that can take time and treatment and long-term counselling to address (2) provides people with a safe foundation on which they can build. They are not, for example, participating in detox and/or a short-term treatment program only to return to unsafe or unstable housing that stands to make them more vulnerable to a relapse.

Although we can have a range of different opinions on how to treat addictions, we need to try to keep in mind that these are our opinions. Treatment can’t be forced and if forced is less likely to be successful. For many people (because complex pain and trauma is at the heart of their addiction), getting to recovery is a process that takes years and multiple attempts.  

We need a greater number and range of treatment programs in all of our communities that individuals can access when they need them, without waitlists. We can’t ask our friends and neighbours to wait until this is all in place before taking steps to provide safe, secure housing. The Village isn’t an alternative to treatment. It is one part of a much larger system working to fill gaps, provide services, and address an epidemic of mental health and addictions crises in our communities. 

A unit in the Village, in some respects, is just like a home. All of the laws that apply in our homes, apply in the Village. All of the things that we do in our homes, can be done in the Village.