Big job ahead: Halifax tackling homelessness as central camp site grows
After heavy criticism earlier this summer, Halifax City Hall is stepping up to help deal with its growing homelessness problem, but even the woman currently spearheading the effort admits it's a major task.
Known as the People's Park, an empty residential lot in central Halifax has quite literally become home to scores of people with nowhere else to go.
"This encampment at the corner of Dublin and Chebucto is absolutely the result of the city's violent evictions on the 18th (of August) at the library," said Rachell Sauve, site coordinator for the advocacy group PADS, which stands for Permanent, Accessible, Dignified and Safer.
Along with supplies, the group has arranged for a portable toilet and washing station on the site.
Indeed, the forcible removal of homeless camps around HRM sent shockwaves across the country on August 18.
After heavy criticism, HRM has earmarked half a million dollars to fund emergency accommodations and appointed a top staffer to tackle the problem.
The three-month position, tasked with leading the emergency response for the municipality went to Erica Fleck, HRM Assistant Chief of Emergency Management
Fleck visited the site last weekend and arranged emergency accommodations for some at The Gerald B. Gray Memorial Arena in Dartmouth - a band-aid solution, she admits.
"Everybody may not like being put into an arena, into a large, open space, but we're very limited in what we have," Fleck told CTV News.
"And again, working with the province on medium and long-term solutions, we are doing absolutely everything we can right now to come with options and solutions for all of our people that are at risk."
Staffed by volunteer advocates, there is no shortage of people offering help and donations.
Steven Taylor dropped off several cases of canned drinks on Wednesday.
"I walk by this crew with the dogs and I know they're out here, and I just thought, 'Hell, I'm going to pick them up some pop'," he said.
Even with shorter days melding together, residents are well aware more lasting solutions have to be found.
"We are looking for the affordable housing that a lot of us deserve," said John Griffin, who lives at the site.