Regina family left with no place to live after tent encampment dismantled

Police and support workers were present as residents were removed from the site.   (Janani Whitfield/CBC  - image credit)
Police and support workers were present as residents were removed from the site. (Janani Whitfield/CBC - image credit)

A Regina family's tent encampment on a property in the Heritage neighbourhood was dismantled Wednesday morning. A local housing worker says this is an example of how a lack of support resources leaves people in the city without places to live.

The Regina Police Service and community partners were called to the site on the 1800 Block of Halifax Street at around 8 a.m. CST Wednesday.

Police confirmed that the property owner had asked for the site to be cleared. It was not clear who had been tasked with doing the clearing.

The tents, located on a property just down the street from the Queen City Wellness Pharmacy, were home to Randy Netmaker and his two adult children. Netmaker previously stayed at Camp Hope in Regina's Pepsi Park before it was dismantled in 2021.

The family had been living in the spot since early 2023.

"This is where it ends I guess," said Netmaker.

Janani Whitfield/CBC
Janani Whitfield/CBC

Netmaker said he is unable to get social service payments because he doesn't have a permanent address or identification. He was also unable to collect residential school settlement money, he said.

"I'm struggling," said Netmaker.

"Having a hard time on social services, trying to get money of my benefits, but they said I got cut off on February. Ever since then I've been collecting, recycling stuff trying to support my family."

Only a matter of time

Shylo Stevenson, a pharmacy assistant and recovery coach at the Queen City Wellness Pharmacy, said that he knew this day was coming.  He was on his way to work when he got a call about the tents being removed from the private property.

Will Draper/CBC
Will Draper/CBC

Stevenson previously worked at Camp Hope and knew Netmaker from that time.

"He came and helped a lot," said Stevenson. "He had a job opportunity afterwards and he chose to come back to the streets because his son was living in the lifestyle."

Stevenson said Netmaker and the landowner previously had a "gentlemen's agreement" allowing the tents to be there.

The removal puts the family back at square one.

More to be done

Katie Harvey, a housing support worker at the Newo Yotina Friendship Centre, has worked with Netmaker and his family.

She helps clients get into housing arrangements and with social services.

"We're tired of all of these barriers that are in our way," said Harvey. "We're tired of all the red tape."

Will Draper/CBC
Will Draper/CBC

Harvey said some landlords do not want to rent to people on the Saskatchewan Income Support (SIS) program or who are actively struggling with addiction.

She wants the city to adopt a housing first model.

"We can't address all of these problems without people being in housing," said Harvey.

She said there are not enough resources, and people like Netmaker and his family pay the price.

"I feel like maybe if some of our SIS and SAID (Saskatchewan Assured Income for Disability) workers were able to take a tour of some of these encampments and see the conditions that you know, our community, our people are living in, it would be an eye-opener," said Harvey.

"If they were able to see what's truly going on here, that they would maybe be a little bit more compassionate to people who are coming in stressed, upset and struggling."

Netmaker and his family were taken to a hotel for the night. It is unclear where they will live going forward.