Charlottetown encampment dismantling delayed due to weather

Only a few people remain at the at the encampment at the Charlottetown Event Grounds. (Aaron Adetuyi/CBC - image credit)
Only a few people remain at the at the encampment at the Charlottetown Event Grounds. (Aaron Adetuyi/CBC - image credit)

A tent encampment at the Charlottetown Event Grounds could be dismantled as early as Tuesday.

A few people are still living at the camp, but on Friday fire officials issued a notice to vacate because of "ongoing fire hazards."

It required all personal belongings to be removed by Monday, but the knockdown was delayed because of poor weather.

Chris Clay, co-ordinator of the Native Council of P.E.I.'s Reaching Home project, said when he started working with people in the encampment, 20 to 25 people were sleeping there in tents and makeshift homes.

He thinks it's time for the remainder to consider using the province's mobile housing units on nearby Park Street.

"For the two or three people that are down there, it's more dangerous to be down there than it is for them to be moved into a shelter," he said.

My fear all along is someone freezing to death out there, but then the heaters that they're bringing in cause carbon monoxide fears. —Chris Clay

"There's a couple of bad things in play right now, one is the weather, the snow is going to be followed by cold. My fear all along is someone freezing to death out there, but then the heaters that they're bringing in cause carbon monoxide fears."

Last week, there was a fire at the site. It was contained to a garbage can, and nobody was hurt. But officials removed more than a half dozen propane tanks and other devices used for cooking and heating.

Propane tanks could be seen back on the site Monday.

Aaron Adetuyi/CBC
Aaron Adetuyi/CBC

Clay said he doesn't know what it would take to get those still living there to leave on their own.

"I figured the coming of the snow and the cold weather would be enough to convince, well, it did convince most people to move out. And I figured word of mouth once people started to stay at Park Street and have positive experiences that that would ripple back. I don't know [for] the last couple of guys what it will take."

Land owned by Charlottetown development corp.

Charlottetown Mayor Philip Brown said the site is in violation of city bylaws, but the land itself is owned by the Charlottetown Area Development Corporation.

The province is a majority shareholder.

"We're keeping a close observation on what's taking place there, again, we're doing our job...." Brown said. "We do have a bylaw, a fire prevention bylaw, and we do have a life safety code that we have to adhere to. So hopefully our partners at CADC will look at what they want to do and make the right move."

In a statement to CBC News, the province's Department of Social Development and Housing said, "Through investments into emergency shelter resources over the last number of months, there are currently adequate supports for individuals experiencing homelessness."

The department is helping people move their personal belongings from the site.

Anyone requiring daytime support or daytime shelter is encouraged to visit or contact the Community Outreach Centre.

Those who need emergency shelter can contact the Shelter Support Line at 1-833-220-4722 or dial 2-1-1.