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The exterior of Saint John City Hall is pictured in this file photo. Image: staff photo

Saint John begins cleaning up vacant encampments

By Brad Perry Apr 20, 2023 | 4:00 PM

Saint John is working with several community organizations to clean up abandoned encampments.

Municipal officials say two encampments located on city-owned land are slated for cleanup this week.

Lisa Caissie, director of external relations, describes it as a “highly collaborative effort” for all involved.

Front-line agencies with the Homelessness Information Partnership of Saint John, or HIPSJ, are part of the process.

“Site visits are conducted by HIPSJ to determine whether encampment areas are occupied or abandoned,” Caissie said in a statement.

“Once they are deemed abandoned, notices are posted in advance to notify anyone who may enter the area, and a cleanup is then initiated on a designated date and time.”

Service providers with HIPSJ will be on-site for each cleanup to help identify any items that may be salvaged, said Caissie.

The city said other sites will be monitored and additional areas will be identified for cleanup over the coming weeks.

Efforts to clean up vacant encampments on provincially-owned land are expected to begin in the coming weeks, said the city.

For encampments that are occupied throughout Saint John, the city said it will continue to help with regular site cleanliness.

“We’ve been providing garbage bags for residents of occupied encampments and crews regularly collect anything that’s placed at the curb,” said Caissie.

“Working with HIPSJ, additional supports, such as sharps containers, rakes and gloves for safe clean up purposes are also being explored.”

Earlier in April, the city’s chief administrative officer said the number of people who reported experiencing homeless had fallen from 202 as of January to around 171.

Brent McGovern attributed some of the decrease to the recently-opened Rose House, a 12-unit transitional house for women.

While numbers have been trending downward, there is concern that could change once the city’s temporary out-of-the-cold shelter in the former Hilton Belyea Arena closes at the end of April.

In the meantime, the city is asking community members to “remain understanding under the circumstances” and to avoid conducting their own cleanup efforts of encampment sites.


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