HRM releases statement about closures of encampments, response to planned protests

Important progress has been made to support those experiencing homelessness to move indoors, since issuing the municipal statement on February 7 regarding the closure and de-designation of five locations for outdoor sheltering.

At the time of the announcement, there were approximately 55 individuals sheltering outdoors among the Geary Street green space in Dartmouth, Saunders Park, Victoria Park and Grand Parade in Halifax as well as the Correctional Centre Park in Lower Sackville. Latest numbers indicate that 25 of these people have accepted indoor sheltering options at a number of facilities, including The Overlook, the Multi-Purpose Centre of the Halifax Forum, the modulars and the Waverley Inn. One of the locations, the Geary Street green space, is now completely vacated. This area is being fenced to enable staff to plan for remediation of the site.

The municipality is awaiting confirmation from the Province of Nova Scotia on the opening date of the Pallet™ shelters in Lower Sackville as it is anticipated that a number of individuals from the Correctional Centre Park location will be moving there. 

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

Deadline to vacate – Monday, February 26

Based on the progress made to date, the municipality expects that all those sheltering in the de-designated locations will comply with the notice to vacate by February 26. 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 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.

Aligned with the municipality’s Public Safety Strategy, efforts related to relocating individuals from the de-designated locations to indoor options will be civilian-led.

If someone sleeping rough in a de-designated location refuses to leave, the municipality will work with them to determine the barriers for them to accept the offer of an indoor option. The municipality will share this information with the province and service providers to help identify what steps can be taken to remove the barriers, so the individual is able and willing to accept an indoor sheltering or transitional housing option.

Police services may be on hand to ensure public order is maintained, as required. The municipal administration does not have authority to direct police-related operational matters. Police officers fulfill their obligation to enforce the law, under the direction and authority of the Chief of Police.

Potential protests

The municipality is aware of protests planned for Saturday, February 24 and Monday, February 26. While it is recognized that people have a right to protest, the municipality 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. 

Status of de-designated locations

Signs were posted at the five de-designated locations following the February 7 notice to vacate to communicate that the parks are closed to the public. As people leave the encampments, sections of the closed parks will be fenced off, as required. Fencing will remain in place until remediation can bring the parks back to a state suitable for their intended purpose.

Updates will be provided when these locations re-open to the public. The only exception is the tiny home community site at the Correctional Centre Park in Lower Sackville which will continue to be a construction area until the project is complete.

Commitment to longer-term solutions

The municipality remains committed to ensuring those sleeping rough are provided better alternatives, working toward having safer, long-term housing options for everyone who needs them.

In the coming weeks, the municipality will be issuing a request for proposals (RFP)/ expression of interest to identify potential options for land and facilities as part of our ongoing commitment to assist the Province of Nova Scotia in securing long-term housing solutions. More details regarding the RFP, and the respective roles of the municipality and the province, will be made available upon its public release.  

For more information, visit our website.

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