New Brunswick

Heavy equipment clears Moncton homeless camp

Heavy equipment was used to clean up one of about 10 homeless tent sites in Moncton on Wednesday. One person lived there and will be allowed to remain.

City says it gave notice to a person living at the site under new tent site 'directive'

Heavy equipment was used to remove a homeless tent camp along West Main Street on Wednesday. (Shane Magee/CBC)

Heavy equipment was used to clean up a homeless tent site Wednesday along west Main Street in Moncton.

An excavator and backhoe were used to move material to a dumpster as city officials and CN police officer watched.

Lisa Ryan with the Greater Moncton Homelessness Steering Committee said one person has lived at the site for some time. While the city has encouraged people to move into a shelter, Ryan said they could remain at the site. 

"A lot of their belongings were left behind because the intention was not to displace them, it was to help them make sure their site was healthy for them and communities," Ryan said.

The city posted a notice May 6 at the site calling for the site in a wooded area south of the CN rail line to be cleaned up and left a large dumpster nearby. 

Ryan said the mess was too much for one person to remove. 

People watched as the tent camp was removed. (Shane Magee/CBC)

The site is among 10 to 12 active homeless tent camps that have sprung up around the community. Ryan estimates 50 to 60 people are staying in the tent camps. 

A number of the people staying in tents say they don't want to go to the two main shelters in the city because of certain rules, like an evening curfew. Advocates and the city are calling for the province to fund a third shelter that would have more lenient rules in the hopes of shifting people from tents to shelters. 

The city has written a "directive" in collaboration with ReConnect, the Salvus Clinic, RCMP and others setting out how tent sites will be handled. 

Tents and shelters had been set up on wooded city land south of the CN rail line. (Shane Magee/CBC)

It sets out that the groups will discuss tent sites when they're discovered. Those on public property in highly visible locations or that pose a health and safety risk will be told to relocate. 

The city is describing the directive as a shift in approach to how it handles tent camps that developed after removing another, larger camp along west Main Street last fall and one downtown last month.

"It just clarifies everything for everyone and makes it easier," said Isabelle LeBlanc, Moncton's director of communications. 

She said cleanup efforts are also underway at a site along Albert Street, where a dumpster has been left by the city.

The directive sets out that YMCA's ReConnect street intervention team will be the main contact with those living in tents. 

Machinery was used to move debris and garbage from a homeless tent camp to a dumpster beside the CN rail line in Moncton. (Shane Magee/CBC)

Property owners will be advised by the city if a tent camp is found on private land. The landowner is then responsible to contact police to report trespassing or give consent to allow the tent site to continue on the condition it remains clean. 

On public land, the city will discuss the site with other groups like ReConnect to agree on how to handle the issue.

Those in the tents will be encouraged to move to shelters and given notice of 48 to 72 hours to gather belongings or remove garbage. 

Taking action on public land depends on several criteria, including location, health and safety issues, complaints from residents or businesses, reports of theft or property damage and child protection concerns. 

About the Author

Shane Magee

Reporter

Shane Magee is a Moncton-based reporter for CBC.

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