Homeless encampments being dismantled in Fredericton
With two fires caused by propane heaters inside tents last week, Fredericton's homeless encampments are being dismantled for the winter.
"We've got to, someone is going to die," said Warren Maddox, executive director of Fredericton Homeless Shelters.
“We’re in this really typical position for us that we’re damned if we do and we’re damned if we don’t, so if I’m going to be dammed, I’ll be dammed for doing something,” Maddox said.
Fires and frigid temperatures are not the only fears, Maddox has major concerns about carbon monoxide poisoning in tents with propane heaters.
"We know we're upsetting you and really creating a sort of chaos in your life and we're sorry, we are, so we're compassionate about it, we're willing to try as many different things as we can but the bottom line really is, it's time, it's cold there's too much danger with the fires," he said.
Fredericton Police Chief Roger Brown released a lengthy statement regarding the fires.
"As police officers, it is our duty to ensure the safety and security of everyone. In this case, that means having to step in when someone’s living situation becomes a risk to themselves and others,” part of the statement read.
The south side tent camp came down on Friday.
At least 15 people living rough on Fredericton’s north side will be moved from their camp on Monday when the city and community stakeholders step in to move them out of the cold.
"Overall there's capacity to take them in, now know that the guys on the north side they're a little more entrenched, so we're not going to get them all, and we'll sort of deal with that situation as it arises,” Maddox said.
The city has an ongoing “by-name list” a record of those who do not have a home in Fredericton, as of this week there were 161 people on that list.
There are currently 126 shelter and transitional housing spaces, but that is projected to increase to 160 by the end of 2022.
"We've seen the approach already in terms of housing first and the John Howard project at the City Motel, and the 12 Neighbours project on the north side, and that's exactly what we need more of,” said David Coon, MLA for Fredericton South.
But until spaces become available for everyone, homeless outreach workers are concerned for the safety of those living outside in the freezing Maritime climate.
"The goal with our partners and everybody else is to get them in and get them stabilized and figure out what kind of supports are you going to need, what sort of housing will you need,” Maddox said.
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