Halifax approves 9 new sites for homeless encampments

Halifax approves 9 new sites for homeless encampments
Halifax approves 9 new sites for homeless encampments

Halifax city councillors have approved a list of parks where new homeless encampments could be set up. The goal is to “relieve pressure” as current sites are overcrowded.

As of June 25, there were 88 tents or structures in the city’s four designated sites for people experiencing homelessness. In an update on the situation regarding Halifax’s homeless population, the city says those sites are nearly 300 per cent overcrowded.

The list of known homeless people in Halifax has also grown to 1,316.

It is a terrible choice. The choice before us today is this: what public space are we going to give up?Councilman Sam Austin said at Tuesday’s meeting.

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A tent set up near the former Halifax Public Library.

Photo : Radio-Canada

After reviewing hundreds of parks in the municipality, staff came up with a list of ten parks that can accommodate the traveling population.

These sites had to meet several criteria. For example, they must not be too close to schools, playgrounds, gardens or culturally sensitive areas, and be close to public transport lines and other services.

Bill Moore, general manager of community safety, says the city has tried to balance the needs of people sleeping on the streets with the potential impacts on people living near the encampments.

After a long debate, the city council decided on a choice of 9 parks.

Lists of approved parks

  • Parc Bayers (Halifax)
  • BiHi Park (Halifax)
  • Parc Chain Lake (Halifax)
  • Parc Cogswell (Halifax)
  • Parc Glebe (Halifax)
  • Parc Common (Halifax)
  • Parc Point Pleasant (Halifax)
  • Parc Geary (Dartmouth)
  • Parc Bissett (Dartmouth)

A few sites could be used initially, including Cogswell Park, Glebe Street Park and an area of ​​Common Park near the oval. If the need arises, the list could be revisited.

It is unclear how many tents will be allowed at each site or when those sites will open. There are expected to be municipal services such as water and portable toilets. Fencing could be installed, if necessary.

Moore said opening more sites would help move people away from the University Avenue site, which is overcrowded and has seen violence and impacts on people working or going to nearby hospitals.

The Municipality also says it is working to have more employees to help people living on designated sites in addition to collaborating with citizen groups and experts, such as social workers.

– With information from journalist Haley Ryan of CBC

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