People in Halifax-area wooden shelters face uncertain future

·3 min read
Allan DeYoung, 60, has been living in a wooden shelter in Dartmouth for months. (Shaina Luck/CBC - image credit)
Allan DeYoung, 60, has been living in a wooden shelter in Dartmouth for months. (Shaina Luck/CBC - image credit)

Every time Allan DeYoung hears a car door slam in the night, he wonders if someone is coming to remove him from his home.

DeYoung, 60, has been living in one of three wooden shelters in a small treed area near Alderney Landing in Dartmouth.

On Wednesday, he listened to the news on his palm-sized radio as police moved people in tents out of Halifax parks and clashed with protestors on Spring Garden Road.

He and the two other men who live nearby heard rumours about what was happening.

"It was stressful. Because I didn't know if we were going to be next. If they're doing that [on] Spring Garden [Road], is it two hours? Is it tomorrow? Am I going to wake up at seven o'clock in the morning to a bang bang on the door? I don't know."

Jeorge Sadi/CBC
Jeorge Sadi/CBC

He has been on edge ever since. He said he was feeling a bit better Saturday morning, but he's still uncertain.

"That's the hardest part for me, is the not knowing," he said.

DeYoung said police brought eviction notices to him and two other men who live near him. He said he was also offered a hotel room, but didn't see that as a good option for himself or for the city.

"It's too short-term in my mind. What are you going to do? You're going to spoil us for, say, two months?" he said.

"Then what? You're going to put us back in the streets for the winter? Where's the solution?"

People who walk by are mostly kind, he said. A lot of them wave hello. Nearby restaurants often bring leftover pizza or sandwiches.

Jeorge Sadi/CBC
Jeorge Sadi/CBC

He feels uncomfortable in Halifax, which he described as "too busy" and "commercialized" for his taste.

Dartmouth is where he grew up, in a home in Eastern Passage and later in Cow Bay, where he grew black-eyed Susans and radishes in the yard.

He has planted a row of cherry tomatoes beside his shelter. The plants are tall and spindly due to lack of sunlight, but he's pleasantly surprised that two developed fruit. So far, a single tomato is ripening.

He listens to talk shows and Toronto Blue Jays baseball games on the radio. At the moment, he has no cell phone. He walks to the ferry terminal at Alderney Landing to use the washroom and listens to the trains shunting on the tracks nearby at night.

Jeorge Sadi/CBC
Jeorge Sadi/CBC

He said he's had no visitors from the city or from the police since receiving the notice to leave. He's hopeful he can stay put a bit longer.

If police come to evict him, he figures he will tell them to pile his things on the ground nearby. After that, he's not sure.

He doesn't want to live in the woods long-term, but has difficulty imagining what a permanent home would look like and where it would be. He enjoys the wooded spot on the Dartmouth waterfront, which he finds peaceful and calming.

"I like it here. It has its inconveniences," he said. "But you adapt. That's what we do. We adapt."

Jeorge Sadi/CBC
Jeorge Sadi/CBC
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