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Halifax encampment evictions: Some tents remain morning of deadline

Halifax’s deadline for people to leave encampments around the city has arrived, but some residents still remained as of Monday morning.

Earlier this month, the municipality said it will close five of its 11 designated encampment sites, saying “better options now exist,” including a 70-bed shelter that recently opened at the Halifax Forum.

At Grand Parade in downtown Halifax, more than a dozen tents were still standing early Monday, with about 20 people remaining.

“We have people here that are scared to death. They do not know where they’re going to go,” volunteer Steve Wilsack said in an interview. “This is a moment of crisis for our province. We need housing first. We need four walls for everyone.”

While the city said it’s forcing the eviction because it believes there are enough places for people to go, Wilsack diagreed.

He said many of the available shelters are full, and even at the ones that aren’t, many unhoused residents do not want to stay there.

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“People need to be inside a place where they feel safe. Here, they feel safe,” he said. “People can lock up their valuables, people have a sense of community.”

Wilsack added that the encampment evictions aren’t going to fix the root problems that led to so many people sleeping outside.

“The bottom line is, tomorrow there’s going to be tents here. There’s going to be tents all over the province,” he said. “This is a result of the system being broken. This is the result of inaction. … This is the result of no place to go.”

The other affected sites are Victoria Park, the Geary Park green space, Saunders Park, and the Correctional Centre Park in Lower Sackville, also known as the Cobequid Road ballfield.

At the Cobequid ballfield, about half a dozen residents remained Monday morning. Crews from the Salvation Army were there to help with moving out. leave.

‘Measured approach’

In a statement over the weekend, the city said that when it first announced the eviction deadline, there were about 55 people sheltering outdoors at the five locations. As of Sunday, 25 people had accepted indoor options at places like The Overlook, the Forum shelter, modular housing units, and the Waverly Inn.

The municipality said the Geary Street green space has been “completely vacated” and is now fenced off so workers can perform remediation work.

“The province, service providers and navigators are discussing appropriate indoor sheltering or transitional housing options with those experiencing homelessness in the remaining locations,” it said.

It said the municipality expects that all those sheltering in the above locations will comply with the notice to vacate.

“However, if the date passes and not all individuals have vacated, there will be a measured approach where each situation will be looked at on a case-by-case basis,” the statement said.

“The municipality is aware that not all people who are currently sleeping rough in these locations will be able to go to a shelter for a variety of reasons. We are working with the province to help those still sheltering outdoors to find options.”

It also said the municipality is “aware of planned protests,” and “wants to make it clear that any violence and/or destruction of property will not be tolerated and any unsafe situations will be dealt with as required, which would include support from police services.”

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