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Tents at Grand Parade Photo: Megan St. Rose

Housing situation ‘state of chaos’ says volunteer at Grand Parade

By Caitlin Snow Feb 20, 2024 | 3:00 PM

It’s less than one week until those living rough in five tent encampments around HRM must leave.

Stephen Wilsack, a volunteer at Grand Parade says the general feel, is a ‘state of chaos’ with 12-15 people still there.

“We have some individuals that require addictions services…mental health support… palliative care…some just require housing.”

Halifax mayor Mike Savage says the sites were never intended to be long term solutions and they want to have conversations with people to find them the best accommodations possible.

However, Wilsack says there has been little-to-no movement to help the unhoused and what might happen on eviction day, is the ‘million-dollar question’.

“Does that mean that somebody’s home is being removed and people are standing by the snowbanks or does that mean that we will have workers down here, guiding them and hand holding them to take them to their newest place where they can recover and have four walls behind them?”

Wilsack adds that the province should have a ‘housing first’ outlook; that all levels of government should be spending millions and millions of dollars, cooperating to solve the housing crisis.

In the meantime, according to Canada’s housing advocate, tent encampments are a human right.

In her final report released February 13, after monitoring encampments for a year, Marie-Josee Houle says not only do unhoused people have a right to live in them, but the government needs to make sure they are equipped with basic services, like clean water and garbage removal.

Earlier this month, HRM gave notice to residents in five out of 11 encampments including Grand Parade and Victoria Park, saying they must leave by February 26- that better options exist.

The city says safety is a significant concern for those living in tents, as well as health risks and being targets for predatory behavior.