Tent encampment near Holland College to be relocated, says college president

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Holland College president Sandy MacDonald told CBC News on Thursday that he's spoken with the people living in the tents to let them know the relocation is coming. (Kerry Campbell/CBC - image credit)
Holland College president Sandy MacDonald told CBC News on Thursday that he's spoken with the people living in the tents to let them know the relocation is coming. (Kerry Campbell/CBC - image credit)

A tent encampment near a Holland College parking lot in Charlottetown P.E.I., will be relocated, the college told CBC News Thursday afternoon.

People without access to affordable housing have set up five encampments around P.E.I.'s capital this summer — the latest development amid the province's growing housing crisis.

Holland College president Sandy MacDonald says roughly 25 to 30 people are currently living in an encampment near the school, and he's heard reports of harassment of staff and drug use.

"It's fair to say it's been a struggle, but when you look at the simplistic solutions to complex problems, you typically come up with — you make it worse," he said.

"So we've waited a little bit longer and I think we've shown a lot of patience and I thank our students and our staff for that. But I think that now it's come to kind of move to a different site while we kind of find a more permanent solution."

Laura Meader/CBC
Laura Meader/CBC

MacDonald says he's spoken with the people living at the encampment to let them know the relocation is coming.

He said the college has also offered to help the residents relocate, and the hope is to find a better spot in the coming days.

The province told CBC News in a written statement that it hasn't asked anyone to leave the site near the college. Officials didn't say anything about a new location for the encampment's residents, but did say more information is coming.

"Currently the plan is to offer out-of-the-cold overnight shelter services," the statement said. "On-site staffing and security options are being developed and further operational information will be shared next week"

With shelters full and winter approaching, provincial and municipal governments have been working on ways to move the campers to a safe and secure location.

Earlier this week, the province announced 40 to 50 mobile units would be brought in from western Canada by mid-November as a temporary fix for the growing homeless population in Charlottetown.

The units will be set up in a government-owned parking lot near the COVID-19 testing site on Park Street.

The province has also said it's working on a more permanent solution.