Housing advocates call for an end to evictions in Halifax

·3 min read
Malcolm Kay was displaced from a park last month and has been staying in a hotel booked by the municipality, but was told this week he had to leave.  (Nicola Seguin/CBC - image credit)
Malcolm Kay was displaced from a park last month and has been staying in a hotel booked by the municipality, but was told this week he had to leave. (Nicola Seguin/CBC - image credit)

More than 100 people gathered in front of Halifax city hall on Saturday to protest the municipality's approach to dealing with homelessness, demanding that evictions be stopped.

It has been a month since Halifax Regional Police and city staff carried out a mass eviction of people sleeping on public property on the peninsula, and the pressure is rising.

Advocates say people without homes are still being confronted and displaced by police when they try to sleep in tents or "crisis shelters" in parks around the city.

"There's a great sense of fear and anxiety amongst people who are unhoused, that wherever they end up when they get kicked out of one place, they're just going to be evicted again," said Drew Moore, a volunteer spokesperson for the Permanent, Accessible, Dignified and Safer Community Network.

Nicola Seguin/CBC
Nicola Seguin/CBC

Moore said police are directing people without homes to stay at Meagher Park at the intersection of Chebucto Road and Dublin Street, now called "People's Park" by advocates.

"As of this morning, we're pushing 30 people who are sheltering in that park now," Moore said.

The community network has been running the encampment in that park with the help of donated food and supplies and volunteer assistance.

On the day of the first evictions, there were two shelters in that park.

Moore said in order for the moratorium on evictions to happen, the municipality would need to change a bylaw that bans people from sleeping in parks or erecting any type of shelter there.

"We're getting into fall now, temperatures are dropping overnight. People are feeling it, there's a real concern for safety," Moore said.

CBC
CBC

"People need housing and we understand that it's a complicated issue that requires levels of government. But right now, there's a simple thing that can be done to support the folks who are unhoused ... and that is to change a bylaw."

Speakers at the demonstration included Campbell McClintock from Halifax Mutual Aid, the volunteer group that has been building small wooden shelters since last winter.

Another speaker was Malcolm Kay. He was displaced from a park last month and was staying at the Comfort Inn on Windmill Road in Dartmouth, but was told this week he had to leave.

He said his child was taken into the care of the province because he has nowhere stable to live.

Nicola Seguin/CBC
Nicola Seguin/CBC

After the evictions last month, the city stated everyone was offered alternative housing, such as hotel stays until they can find a more permanent solution. This week, people living in the hotel rooms booked by the municipality were told they had to leave as the rooms had been booked by other guests.

In late August, Halifax regional council allotted $500,000 to the creation of emergency housing. It was unclear if anyone from council was present at the protest Saturday.

Moore said he thinks the protest will send a clear message to council.

"People care about their neighbours," he said. "And our neighbours and our fellow community members include people who are unhoused."

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