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Halifax de-encampment deadline passes but sites still exist

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The Halifax Regional Municipality’s Monday deadline to shut down five encampments site has come and gone yet many homeless people are still sleeping in tents in several locations.

“The city never intended to maintain the deadlines that they said,” said Issmat Al-Akhali with Friends of Downtown Haliifax. “On Monday I believe they lost all credibility.”

Al-Akhali, a business owner, has grown weary after repeated broken promises by the city to return these public spaces to their original use.

Al-Akhali said encampments are not a safe housing solution.

“We want all encampment residents to be safe in appropriate and dignified housing for the needs,” said Al-Akhali. “Or to receive the medical or mental or addiction support required.”

Not only are they two days past the deadline, but after several requests, no one from the city was made available to comment on camera.

Homeless strategies were discussed during today’s HRM budget hearing.

“Whether it’s the modules, tiny homes, Pallet shelters or looking at ways to ensure that the wraparound services are available, for individuals to access housing,” said HRM councillor Pam Lovelace.

The HRM said electricity will be disconnected at Halifax’s Grand Parade and Correctional Centre Park in Lower Sackville on Friday morning.

When people leave the encampments, the province has a number of facilities that may be available, including The Overlook, the Multi-Purpose Centre at the Halifax Forum, the Waverley Inn and some modular options.

According to a statement by the HRM, “the Province has assured the municipality that there are enough spaces available in indoor shelters and supportive housing options for everyone in the de-designated locations.”

“The streets are going to be flooded with the unhoused,” said Grand Parade volunteer Steve Wilsack, who added, based on his research, most places are full. “Literally, there is no place to go.”

And with time winding down, and the power soon to be shut off at two locations, Wilsack fears more delays to get encampment sites de-designated.

For more Nova Scotia news visit our dedicated provincial page.

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