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Power cut to Halifax homeless encampment

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City hall enforced its eviction notice at Halifax’s Grand Parade encampment Friday by disconnecting power to the tents still at the site, but even on one of the coldest days of the year, the people living there refuse to leave.

At 9 a.m., city crews and volunteers from the encampment disconnected the only source of power, which provided heating to all the tents, plunging people living there into the bitter cold.

Kevin McGuire is one of 12 people still living on the property. For him, the tent was a safe space, warm, and comfortable enough.

“I’m feeling really cold. It was minus 25 this morning. They took away my power which was my only source of heat,” said McGuire. “This is only going to make me sicker and I’d be lucky if I can survive it.

McGuire said he wants his privacy and shelters don’t offer that.

However, there are other designated encampments that the city suggests people can go to.

“Some people have told me that they won’t go indoors and I respect everyone’s opinion. If they want power, the Barrington Greenway, which is a designated location has power available and so people also could move down there,” said Max Chauvin, director of housing and homeless with Halifax Regional Municipality.

Despite there being no power, some people are moving back to Grand Parade, like Rick Young.

For the last month, Young was put up in an Airbnb, but that came to an end today.

“I’m homeless now. Back to square one,” he said.

Young said he is disappointed with the city’s decision to cut off power now, in the winter.

“By doing this they are just making people uncomfortable so that they are forced to go to shelters. It’s a forced evictions.”

Young, McGuire and others living there refuse to leave.

“I’m going to fight for what I have, regardless of what the city wants to do. This is where I am staying. This is my home,” said McGuire.

In the meantime, some community volunteers gave out propane heaters today.

Other volunteers, who have been living at the encampment for the last several months said that while they understand it is public property, they believe the shelters are not for everyone.

“Safety is an issue in the shelter. I spoke to one person today and they are scared to go to a shelter because it triggers them in terms of drugs and alcohol,” said Stephen Wilsack.

Chauvin said there are multiple options available for shelter both indoors and outdoors for people to go to.

“Being outside is not good for a host of reasons. The province has provided a large variety of options for folks. We have to remember, there are pallet shelters coming and tiny homes as well.”

He said the focus of the city has been to have conversations with people living in tents at the de-designated areas about options, he said the city has stored some belongings for people and has managed to convince a few to go indoors.

For more Nova Scotia news visit our dedicated provincial page.

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