Halifax plans for new homeless encampments as current ones fill up

Halifax is planning to open more designated sites for people experiencing homelessness, as the number of unhoused individuals in the municipality continues to grow and encampments become more cramped.

According to a new staff report, four designated tenting locations are over capacity with more people regularly moving in. Meanwhile, tents and other structures are going up in non-designated locations, including in Dartmouth’s Northbrook Park, Halifax Common and Point Pleasant Park. Max Chauvin, the municipality’s director of housing and homelessness, said there are between 60 and 70 people sleeping rough in the city. And while “great options” are coming from the province, he said, the timing has not lined up.

A tiny-home community for 62 unhoused people in Lower Sackville won’t be ready until the fall, while most of the 100 individual Pallet shelters earmarked for Halifax also aren’t in place. “The challenge is how do we support some of those folks right now,” said Chauvin. The report described designated encampments as a temporary “necessity,” but it cautioned they are not a solution. It noted encampments are often unsafe for people living in them and become issues for the surrounding community.

No specific locations for the new sites were identified in the report. Chauvin said he would discuss how many might be needed with regional council at next month’s meeting. The report said people will not be allowed to sleep rough in locations that were recently de-designated as encampments, including Grand Parade, the Geary Street green space, and Victoria and Saunders parks. Other prohibited locations continue to be sites within 50 metres of a school or daycare, on active sports fields, within cemeteries, on bridges or docks, near playgrounds or recreation facilities, or in highly inaccessible spaces.

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