New Brunswick

Fredericton police chief defends monitored tent cities

Fredericton police chief Roger Brown is defending a monitored tent city on the north side that some residents complain is leading to increased crime in the neighbourhood.

Some people claim sites have brought theft, trespassing to north side neighbourhoods

The city and police have been letting some homeless people tent at four sites in Fredericton. (Elizabeth Fraser/CBC)

Fredericton police Chief Roger Brown is defending a monitored tent city on the north side that some residents complain is leading to increased crime in the neighbourhood.

Residents on social media said they've had to deal with trespassing, public intoxication and theft since the site opened in May.

One post on social media asks: "When is enough going to be enough?"

"I have lived here for over 25 years and the [nearby walking] trail has never been a perfect addition to your backyard, but this is not acceptable," says another post on Facebook. 

"We do pay taxes. Why do we have to put up with this in our backyard?"

But Brown said he doesn't think the issues being experienced on the north side are all attributable to the tent city. He said only about 20 people use the four sites set up for people who are homeless — near the Devon Trail on the north side and near the City Motel, behind Government House and on private property on Charlotte Street on the south side.

The site in the Devon neighbourhood, where people have complained, has basic services such as porta–potties and garbage pickup.

Police have seen some benefits to having the monitored tent sites, Brown said.

Fredericton police Chief Roger Brown says some of the crimes being blamed on the homeless aren't being perpetrated by them. (Submitted by the Fredericton Police Force )

"We've had, you know, some relative success in and around those sites because we've been able to link some of the individuals who are living there with the services that they desperately need."

Brown said he spoke with homeowners and business owners in the area last week to help educate them and explain what the city is looking to do with the monitored sites.

He said that often people who don't have homes are victims themselves and are blamed for crimes they did not commit.

"There are other individuals who are criminal-minded, there are people who, you know, steal … that are not associated with the homeless population at all," Brown said. 

"Those are people that are looking for fencing opportunities, probably to deal with drug addictions and the like."

Fredericton Police Chief Roger Brown weighs in on complaints homeowners are making. 14:33

Brown said the city has a significant methamphetamine problem, one that can be seen as a root cause of the homelessness and crime.

While he's not entirely sure what organizations are bringing meth into the city, he said he believes outlaw biker gangs are a major culprit.

"Let's not kid ourselves, they are definitely involved in the distribution of meth."

With files from Information Morning Fredericton