St. John’s tent city isn’t going anywhere. In fact, it’s getting bigger

Residents of the tent city in St. John’s say the homelessness encampment is expanding — and that it isn’t going away heading into the summer months. The encampment sprung up at Colonial Building last fall, and persisted throughout the winter months. Laurel Huget, a representative of Tent City for Change — a group of volunteers supporting people living in the encampment — said the encampment had between four and eight stable tenants during the winter, but is now up to around 25 residents.

“As hard as it is to live at tent city, it’s harder to live in many of the shelter options available,” Huget told CBC News Monday. The encampment lasted throughout the winter, with Huget saying extensive efforts were made to keep people warm in their tents. That involved the use of propane, which caused a fire at the encampment over the weekend.

Greg Mcain lost half of his tent — and an estimated $1,200 of possessions, according to Huget. Mcain wasn’t in the tent at the time, and no one was injured. “It is what it is. Fire takes all. I might just put a tarp over it and do what I can to keep the elements out and the rain out,” he said. The St. John’s Regional Fire Department told CBC News crews were on scene at Mcain’s tent after 1 a.m. on Monday morning and removed a damaged propane tank and propane burner from the tent.

Mcain told CBC he did leave the tent unattended, but isn’t sure how the fire started. But despite only having half a tent, he doesn’t see a better option for himself than to stay in the encampment. He’s seen more people come in as well, and expects the number of residents to keep growing.

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