Discovery of homeless encampment in Halifax park highlights need for affordable housing, supports
HALIFAX -- A Halifax man has stumbled across what appears to be an encampment in Long Lake Provincial Park -- a site where a number of hypodermic needles were left out in the open.
It's not what you would expect to see in nature, but that is what Erik Burgers came across while mountain biking Sunday.
Burgers posted the images on social media to warn others about the needles he saw and notified the authorities.
He said Tuesday that he's waiting to hear back from officials on what has happened since.
The area is in a section of the park where trails aren't groomed -- an area that is strictly the responsibility of the provincial Department of Lands and Forestry.
Halifax Regional Police says it did receive a report of what it described as "someone's belongings left in the park" and that it contacted the parks department for cleanup.
A spokesperson with the Department of Lands and Forestry says staff removed a "significant amount" of garbage and debris reported in the park three weeks ago.
The department says staff will now go out again, to see if this is a different site than the last.
Shelter Nova Scotia says the demand for housing has dramatically increased, with 215 calls to its men's shelter in the first two weeks of October, from people looking for a place to stay.
"There's just a lot of people who are having a hard time finding an affordable place to live," said Jayme Lynn Butt of Shelter Nova Scotia.
The lack of affordable housing and loss of employment are both exacerbated by the pandemic.
"When I hear about all the people living outside, and how that's increasing, obviously I'm pretty concerned," said Michelle Porter, CEO of the Souls Harbour Rescue Mission CEO.
Souls Harbour Rescue Mission has also seen an increased need for services. Demands for a free hot meal are up by 250 per cent.
It's trying to build its own shelter, but that takes a lot of fundraising.
"And we're relying a lot on the generosity of our community, so we have to be patient," Porter says.
As for whoever may be in Long Lake Provincial Park, Butt says: "I hope that they can get into one of our shelters, or that somebody at least is working with them."