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Charlottetown developing plan to address unhoused encampments

The grass still hasn’t grown back at the former homeless encampment site in Charlottetown.

Workers tore down the makeshift homes, evicting the final holdouts in late-January, and cleaned up debris left by those who were already gone.

It’s also sparked other changes.

At a meeting Monday night, city councillors voted unanimously in favour of the motion:

“That the City of Charlottetown supports the creation of an inter-jurisdiction city-led response team, to address unhoused encampments, within the city’s legislated mandates. With the terms of reference to be developed by the response team and its members.”

Charlottetown Mayor Philip Brown says it’s about making sure there’s a place for people to stay.

“At this point, everything’s on the table, but the long-term is more housing,” said Brown. “More public housing. More affordable. More social housing. More co-op housing, and more subsidized housing.”

Brown said the municipality's role is in zoning and development policies which allow higher density housing to be built quickly, to try and meet demand.

Many of those who left the Charlottetown encampment ended up at a 50-bed emergency shelter on Park Street in Charlottetown.

Concerns are growing with warm weather on the way, which could lead to more people camping, though there isn’t data available to support that yet.

However, unlike in some jurisdictions, the shelter will remain open through the warm months.

“Is low barrier. It’s accessible,” said Rob Lantz, Minister of Housing, Land and Communities. “There’s a lot of amenities and services for the comfort of people who are unhoused, so I expect to it will continue to have fairly good usage throughout the summer.”

The exact size and scope of the group is not yet known, but what we do know is that it will be led by the fire chief and the chief of police for Charlottetown.

The mayor tells us that they still need to engage more stakeholders, including unhoused people themselves, before they make final decision on exactly what the working group will look like.

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