Eviction notice served to Fredericton's tent city residents
Notice from the Department of Transportation and Infrastructure
An eviction notice pinned on the tents of homeless people living behind the lieutenant-governor's home in Fredericton gave the residents until the end of the day Thursday to move out.
Residents in the so-called tent city along the walking trail between the St. John River and Government House were served an eviction notice signed by John Logan, the acting deputy minister of transportation and infrastructure.
"The tents located on this property have become a hazard to public safety," said Logan.
But Dennis Robertson, who stayed in his tent during recent the recent bitter nights, had one simple question for the province: why now?
"You had a whole year to hand this out, or even start the eviction," said Robertson.
"Why kick us while we're down?"
An emailed statement from the Department of Social Development said the choice to evict the residents from the tent city was made for their own safety.
"There is no heat or running water available at this site and given the extreme cold in recent days, we are encouraging these individuals to take advantage of the beds available at one of the three shelters in the city," said the department.
Warren Maddox, the executive director of Fredericton's Homeless Shelters, said both the men's and women's shelters have capacity.
Joan Kingston, chair of the city's Community Action Group on Homelessness, said the out-of-the-cold shelter can house 25 people at once, but 40 different individuals have used the shelter at various times.
The tents sprang up last May after a winter shelter closed. It has carried on through this winter, despite the creation of an emergency shelter again this year.
At least nine residents spent Thursday morning packing their belongings into totes provided for them.
The Social Development Department said it has "offered to provide storage space to the individuals who had been living in the tents to store their belongings until more permanent accommodations can be found."
Robertson said he has his own storage locker, but other residents aren't so lucky and are concerned they will never see their belongings again if they are given to the province.
Residents gave different reasons for why they chose the tent city over shelters, but many, including Robertson, said the vibe of the out-of-the-cold shelter has changed from last year.
"There's been a little bit of favouritism, a lot more stealing, a lot more disrespect," said Robertson.
Robertson said he plans on trying to set up a tent in another location and said he'll try to help as many people as he can.
"They're like family, better family than my own family," said Robertson.
- An earlier version of this story said incorrectly that the men's and women's shelters were at capacity. In fact, Fredericton Homeless Shelters said it has the capacity to take in more people.Jan 23, 2020 4:27 PM AT